Nov 19, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: The Story of Babar: the little elephant

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

As I'm sure many other children did, I remember watching early morning cartoons on the weekends. One of my favorites was Babar which came on very early on HBO. Words do not properly convey how much the stories resonated with me. There was always a moral lesson to be learned and despite the preposterous basis (a walking, talking, gentleman elephant) I was enraptured! Imagine my delight when one morning my mother happened to catch the tale end of the program & informed me that it was actually a book. Several in fact. I demanded that we find these books so I could devour them! Along the same line as Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, the Babar book series by Jean de Brunhoff consisted of several shorter books all with a moral attached. Below are some of my personal favorites.

The Story of Babar the little elephant
This book was the first book written and it tells the story about how Babar came to be in Paris among the educated & elite. After the tragic murder of his mother by a hunter, a kind elderly woman became his patron by dressing him, educating him, & ensuring his place in the world. But dissatisfied, Babar returns to his rightful place in the forest & is promptly crowned king.

The Travels of Babar
In this story, Babar met a lady elephant & they fell in love. He is in need a queen & Celeste fills that role quite nicely so the two are married. The Travels of Babar follow the two lovebirds as they embark on their honeymoon. Naturally it can't go without a hitch & the young couple soon finds themselves in a terrible storm, leaving them to fend of hunters.

Babar and His Children
As in many love stories, there comes a time when the happy couple wants to multiply their love by having children. In Babar & Celeste's case they are fortunate enough to have three at once. Flora, Pom, and Alexander are just like their parents & seem to have a knack of getting in to trouble only to be rescued by their parents or other animals in the forest.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when reading these classic French tales is that they were told/written in the early 1930's. Context & societal norms are something that must be taken into consideration when enjoying them. There are depictions & events that aren't "politically correct" or that may seem "strange," but as with any historical piece, the context clues are a vital part of what makes the story. Just keep that in mind; not just for these books, but for any older book.
J'espère que vous les aimez! (I hope you like them!)

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