Storybook Heroes No 6: Babar
BORN Paris, 1931
DEFINING MOMENT Babar first appeared in French L’Histoire De Babar, written and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff. The English translation, The Story Of Babar, was published by Methuen in 1933: “In the great forest, a little elephant was born. His name was Babar. His mother loved him dearly, and used to rock him to sleep with her trunk, singing to him softly the while.”
WHY WE LOVE BABAR
- Many great authors cite Babar as an inspiration including Dick “Miffy” Bruna and AA Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, who wrote the introduction to the English version with the following words of praise: “If you love elephants, you will love Babar and Celeste. If you have never loved elephants, you will love them now. If you who are a child do not take these enchanting people to your heart; if you do not spend delightful hours making sure that no detail of their adventures has escaped you; then you deserve to wear gloves and be kept off wet grass for the rest of your life.” Quite.
- The illustrations are a sheer delight, with memorable images of the line of elephants, holding tails with trunks, and Babar in his green suit and spats (displaying inimitable French chic), perfectly complemented by de Brunhoff’s stylised handwritten text.
The dignity and wisdom of Babar, who always knows best.