The Story of Babar the little elephant by Jean De Brunhoff, a classic children’s picture book first published in the 1930’s, begins the collection of tales about this loveable elephant, his family, and his kingdom. Having read other books in this series before, I found this book helpful toward explaining many of the primary characters, as well as how Babar became the monarch of a jungle kingdom. When Babar was a young elephant, after his mother was killed by a hunter, he ran away and found himself in a city where he was adopted by an old lady. This benefactress refines Babar into a gentleman complete with a green suit and a car. One day other young elephants visit him, but must return to the jungle, so Babar returns to his home with them. At this same time, the King of the elephants dies by eating a bad mushroom and the search for a new king quickly ends when the other animals meet Babar. Babar marries one of his young visitors to the city, they are coronated, and leave for their honeymoon.
Pros: An adorable, fanciful book that may be a good introduction to fantasy fiction for young children.
Cons: Since I am not a fan of fantasy, this book is a bit of a stretch for me. Besides that, some topics in this book may be uncomfortable to read to young children. The death of Babar’s mother at the hands of a hunter, the death of the King due to “bad mushrooms,” and the marriage of Babar to his cousin are all issues that may have been normal at the time the book was written, but are not easily-discussed now.
Age Range: 4-8
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