Title: The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant
Publisher: Random House, NY
Publication Date: 1961
Binding: Glossy Pictorial Cover
Book Condition: Very Good
Dust Jacket Condition: No Dust Jacket
Translated from the French by Merle S. Haas. Back cover shows wrinkling of plastic cover. Bookseller Inventory # 002229
Synopsis: The classic first story about literature?s most beloved pachyderm. After his mother is killed by a hunter, Babar avoids capture by escaping to the city, where he is befriended by the kindly Old Lady. He becomes educated and cultured and, upon his return to the great forest, is crowned King of the Elephants. Translated from Jean de Brunhoff's original French, the adventures of the world's most popular elephant and his friends have enchanted an three generations. Delightfully amusing illustrations make this short collection of classic Babar tales a book to treasure for children young and old.
Review: The Story of Babar--the early adventures of the enduring, endearing elephant--was written in 1931 by French writer Jean de Brunhoff (1899-1937). Since then, it has been translated into at least 12 languages. It's amazing how much can happen to one little elephant in the course of one little book: Babar loses his mother to a hunter, wanders into the city, gets a new wardrobe, becomes the hit of high society, marries his cousin Céleste (totally acceptable in contemporary Elephantine society), and is crowned King of the Elephants.
The Story of Babar is essentially the tale of a country boy who comes to the city and, while there, comes of age. In the end, he returns home to share his knowledge and experiences with family and friends. The beautiful, delightfully detailed illustrations--de Brunhoff was a painter by trade--never fail to amuse. (Although none of the characters seem to notice, the sight of Babar in a suit leaning against the mantel while he regales his audience with tales of the jungle is plainly hilarious.) All of the Babar books are notable for their ability to tell larger stories with simplicity and style, and The Story of Babar is no exception. Potentially troubling moments--the death of Babar's mother, for example--are handled with taste, emphasizing Babar's unique gift for uncovering a silver lining in the most persistent of clouds. (Ages 4 to 8, though the cursive writing makes it best for reading aloud.)
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