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The Story of Babar (Babar #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  50,373 Ratings  ·  315 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 56 pages
Published September 12th 1937 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published 1931)
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(showing 1-30)
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Brian Yahn
Jan 06, 2016 Brian Yahn rated it did not like it
Aside from endorsing Colonialism, Jean de Brunhoff makes light of death by killing off Babar's mother on page two, quickly moving on and completely ignoring it. I'm sorry, but for a child's mother to die, that's a pretty big deal, and two pages later, that child shouldn't be totally over it and having fun riding an elevator and buying new shoes. He should be morning, or trying to learn how to deal with loss.

All of this could maybe be overlooked if The Story of Babar had a positive message, but t
Mar 18, 2009 T.R. rated it did not like it
I'm not planning to add children's books to my page, but this one really took my breath away as I read it to my one year old one night.

First of all, Babar's mother is shot on like page two. There she is lying dead with the gloating hunter holding his rifle. Yikes! Little orphan Babar meekly watches on, barely a tear in his elephant eye.

However, this isn't enough to warrant a review. It's what comes next. Babar's story then unfolds as some bizarre French colonial wish fulfillment. Babar, followin
Eva Leger
Aug 06, 2011 Eva Leger rated it liked it
Shelves: julias-books
3.5 - Has anyone else read any of the reviews left here?!?! Holy shit! Get a grip people! This is Babar, it's a book for children for God's sake. "Gasp! A dead elephant! Good heavens!", "Gasp! Don't go to the white people's city Babar or else I can't read this to my kids!", "Oh my gosh! Tell me that's not a gun! That character can't be hunting, can he?"
Good Lord. I'd hate to spend a day with these people. I don't like hunting. I don't mind guns. But Lord keep me, is it really THAT big of a deal?
I was *this close* to creating a new shelf for Babar: "dude, chill out" or perhaps "get over yourself" or perhaps even "not everything is a blatant, all-out attempt to indoctrinate your child with communism/fascism/colonialism/capitalsim/your-ism-here-ism." Those would all be too long.

I do not condone colonialism--let me make that clear. However, I do believe, very strongly, that if you do not agree with ideas in--or even hinted at in--a book that you are reading with your child, it is your resp
Odd little childrens book. A minor quibble, elephants live in a matriarchy, so not only is this not educational its actively uneducational :P .
I'm sure there must be some other versions of this book but the one i read had hand-written text!, and in cursive! Even i had issues deciphering a word here or there but i can only imagine the horror on a child's face if they were handed this :lol. And their growing horror if they actually managed to figure out what it says ;) .

There are several dark mo
Aug 28, 2013 midnightfaerie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
This was my 5 yr old's choice for his "on his own" reading today. And he was sorely disappointed. I had read some of this as a child but I didn't remember any of it. But when I started asking my son what it was about he got upset and started listing all the reasons he hated it. The king dies? Babar's mother gets killed by hunters? And on top of all that, he said, he doesn't even like elephants! So there. I'm not a politically correct person when it comes to discerning what my child reads. If he' ...more
Nov 24, 2008 Molly rated it it was ok
I remember being in love with Babar as a child, but I'm thinking they must have been the updated stories. Not only did my preschooler not really enjoy this lengthy tale, I was almost too embarrassed to keep reading! I knew going in that it was a colonial allegory, but geez! I mean we see his mom shot and killed and Babar is sad, but he's ok by the next day because a rich old lady wants to buy him some clothes! Then he goes out to civilize his former herd (who of course want to make him king beca ...more
Apr 16, 2015 Sonia rated it did not like it
Shelves: tutoring-books
This book was confusing to me.

Babar has his mother killed in front of him. I thought this would turn out into a similar story to Bambi, but I was wrong.

Oh so wrong.

Suddenly, Babar leaves the jungle and assimilates with the humans (he doesn't hate them for what happened to his mother? or scared of them?).

His cousins join him later and later they all return to the jungle beause the cousin's family was looking for them. Afterward Babar becomes king and his cousin bride becomes queen.

Confused? So a
Apr 03, 2015 Tracey rated it did not like it
I just thought I'd save you the trouble of reading this stupid kid's book by writing everything that happens.

There's an elephant named Babar who has a pretty good life and is being raised by a great mom. Then she's murdered by hunters right in from of him. He runs away to the city where an old woman takes him in. Honestly, I think they're a bit more than friends if you catch my drift. Years pass before two random elephants come running to the city too. And who do they find? Babar and his old lad
Dec 11, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
As a child I was drawn to Babar (a name I just recently learned is pronounced with emphasis on the second syllable --buh-BAR) partly because the books were written in cursive handwriting. At five, I couldn’t decipher the curly letters, but oh, how I wanted to.

When I could at last read the words, I felt as if I’d cracked some sort of ancient code, so the books always felt quite magical to me. The French names only added to the mystique.

Little did I know the books would be later denounced for th
Jan 14, 2009 Marya rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-books
Babar is a shopaholic? After his mother is murdered and he is chased by the hunter who did, his first desire is some sharp looking threads? And when Celeste and Arthur visit him for the first time in the city, what does he do? Buy them clothes of course! And when he returns with Celeste and Arthur to the jungle in his swanky new car(nice image there; Celeste and Arthur's mothers have to run behind the car with their trunks held up to avoid the belching smoke), what does he do when told ...more
Oct 10, 2008 ABC rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: kindergarteners and early elementary
Shelves: younger-kids
Babar's mom is killed by hunters, so he goes off to the big city and is taken in by a rich old lady who happens to like elephants and he becomes her boy toy. After living there for a couple of years, he returns to the rest of the elephants where he is immediately crowned king (the reason? because he has lived with men) and, at the same time, marries his cousin Celeste.

I just could not get into this beloved classic. My son was mildly interested, only because he recognized it from a Babar cartoon
Heidi Hart
May 29, 2014 Heidi Hart rated it did not like it
Shelves: children-s-books
My kids got this book as a hand-me-down from someone (the inscription on the cover is "To Ben, Christmas 1974," but we don't have any Ben's in the immediate family), and lately my three-year-old has been requesting it almost every night. Frankly, as with many French things, I don't see the appeal.

The story is just trippy and bizarre. Babar is born in a forest and cavorts with cousins until one day a hunter kills his mama. It's very sad for about half a sentence, and then Babar runs off to a city
May 19, 2010 Garnette added it
Recommends it for: the nonjudgmental
Recommended to Garnette by: my grandmother
I am opening a bookstore. And yes, of course, it is a life-long dream. Tried to just after my divorce thirty years ago and now, here it is again. The wheel has turned. So despite the worry and work of starting a business (state, federal busy.ness), I get to procure books. At first I thought I would just sell my collection - then there was the heartbreak of actually parting from the majority - which I decided not to do one tearful night.

So many people are donating books to salve my soul and save
Anna Nesterovich
May 13, 2016 Anna Nesterovich rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
I first learnt about this book from Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science or some other book by Richard Dawkins, I don't remember exactly. What I do remember is that he mentioned Babar as something he used to read to his daughter. It sounded like a reason enough to give it a try.

I wish I didn't. My five-year-old is ok with the book, of course, since he can't recognize in it what I can. I guess in 1933, when it was published, a book like that was totally fine for children; just a normal li
Oct 10, 2012 Dolly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This story was selected as one of the books for the November 2012 - Classic Picture Book Characters reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.

I know I read this book (or others in the series) when I was very young, but so far I had not read this book with our girls. It was much as I remembered it, but somehow I don't think this book has withstood the test of time. It seems so dated and just isn't all that engaging.

The illustrations are very recognizable, an
Dec 11, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-ya, own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2011 Nikki rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens-lit
Another banned book. Poor little Babar. His mom is shot and killed while he's riding on her back! Not a cheery way to kick of a children's picture book. Life does get better for Babar though, and when the king is poisoned and dies, well, he gets to be the next king. I didn't find anything really compelling in this book though, and it would definitely have it's sad moments for children. No need to ban it though. It's kind of like Bambi meets Lion King. ;) Again - the key with so many books - talk ...more
My fourth book for Banned Books Week. This was a pretty fun book to read, though also sad (in the beginning).
Jun 02, 2013 Denise rated it it was amazing
My father loved to read this book to me when I was a child. He made it come alive! Reading it today to my first graders it brings back those warm memories....
May 12, 2015 Steph rated it liked it
I could swear I loved this as a kid... But it is kind of not-so-fun reading this as a now-adult. Sad and strange. So very, very odd that this is such a classic.
Ruth Bonetti
Sep 24, 2016 Ruth Bonetti rated it really liked it
I'm interested that this has attracted many lower stars, but this may because modern readers find it dated. For those who know it as narrated text with music it becomes even more charming. For those who try to protect children from hard knocks (yes, Babar's mother dies, but he gets on with his rather quirky life) and abhor colonialism of the 1930's, that was a different era. It is a classic and some depict inconvenient mores and truths.
Read it to my son because he loves elephants and picture books and because I had never read it myself but remember fondly the cartoons on the rare occasion I could catch one. Was disappointed. It was rather wordy, so not the best for short attention spans, and once I read it I realized it was sort of allegorical for colonization, which I found disturbing. Funny how childhood can be so innocent. It seems Babar needs to be civilized by the human women he lives with, and learns to love living the s ...more
Sep 25, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all children
A lovely New Yorker article (by Adam Gopnik, naturellement) defending Babar against charges of representing an approving view of French colonialism's civilizing mission made me both stand up and cheer and remember how much I loved the Babar and Celeste!

(the article, for those interested:
L'histoire de Babar ♥
J'adore Babar, il est très mignon!

Babar is love, Babar is life!
I read it when I was a little girl and I've loved it *.*
Apr 05, 2015 Colleen added it
Shelves: kids, picture-books
Not recommended, hasn't aged well
Elinor  Loredan
Feb 28, 2012 Elinor Loredan rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012 seemed pointless, and wasn't very charming and fun. And what about the Old Lady? What happens to her after Babar leaves?
Mandy J. Hoffman
Mar 17, 2009 Mandy J. Hoffman rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids-books
I remember watching the movies as a kid and they seemed so much better! Maybe that's just the veiw from a kids perspective. It's an okay book...just a little odd.
So bizarre. I remember liking it as a kid.
Maria Bulfamante
Apr 03, 2015 Maria Bulfamante rated it it was amazing
His book is great for children young or old depending on what kind of books your into!
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Jean de Brunhoff was a French writer and illustrator known for co-creating Babar, which first appeared in 1931. The stories were originally told to their second son, Mathieu, when he was sick, by his wife Cecile de Brunhoff. After its first appearance, six more titles followed. He was the fourth and last child of Maurice de Brunhoff, a successful publisher, and his wife Marguerite. He attended Pro ...more
More about Jean de Brunhoff...

Other Books in the Series

Babar (1 - 10 of 165 books)
  • The Travels of Babar
  • Babar the King
  • ABC De Babar
  • Babar and Zephir
  • Babar and His Children
  • Babar and Father Christmas
  • Babar: The Race to the Moon (Babar Series)
  • Babar's Birthday Surprise
  • Babar and His Friends at the Farm
  • Babar's Kingdom

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