Monday, 12 July 2021

de Brunhoff, Jean "The Story of Babar"

de Brunhoff, Jean "The Story of Babar" (French: Histoire de Babar le petit éléphant) - 1934

I remember my little brother watching Babar the Elephant on TV. And since he's over 50 by now, that is a long, long time ago. My sons also loved Barbar, Céleste and their family both on TV and in their books.

I noticed that I never wrote about Babar even though my most favourite animal is an elephant. But since we do "Paris in July", this is the perfect opportunity to introduce him to those who haven't heard of him, though I doubt there are that many.

Well, Babar is an elephant. His mother is killed in the jungle and this is how he ends up in town. Jean de Brunhoff's wife Cécile had told their children these stories about an elephant in a city.

As happens with so many other books (especially children's books), the cover has changed a lot over the time (see the collage at the top) but the drawings have always changed the same.

Unfortunately, the author died of tuberculosis when he was only 37 years old. So, he didn't get to write all the many books about "his" elephant. Here is the list:

The Story of Babar (Histoire de Babar) - 1934
The Travels of Babar (Le Voyage de Babar) - 1934
Babar the King (Babar the King) - 1935
A.B.C. of Babar (L'ABC de Babar) -1936
Zephir's Holidays and Babar's Friend Zephir (Les vacances de Zéphir) - 1937
Babar and His Children (Babar en famille) - 1938
Babar and Father Christmas (Babar et le père Noël) - 1940

However, his son Laurent carried on the stories, he learned to draw the elephant just the same way his father had and so Babar and his family could experience many more adventures. That way, one can hardly tell which one is by the father and which by the son:

Babar's Cousin: That Rascal Arthur (Babar et ce coquin d'Arthur) - 1946
Babar's Picnic (Pique-nique chez Babar) - 1949
Babar's Visit to Bird Island (Babar dans l'île aux oiseaux) - 1952
Babar and the Circus (Babar au cirque)
Babar's Fair (La fête de Célesteville) - 1954
Babar and the Professor (Babar et le professeur Grifaton) - 1956
Babar's Castle (Le Château de Babar) - 1961
Babar's English Lessons (Je parle anglais avec Babar) - 1963
Babar Comes to America (Babar en Amérique) - 1965
Bonhomme (Babar à New York) - 1966
Babar's German Lessons (Je parle allemand avec Babar) - 1966
Babar's Spanish Lessons (Je parle espagnole avec Babar) - 1966
Babar's Birthday Surprise (L'anniversaire de Babar) - 1972
Babar visits a planet (Babar sur la planète mole) - 1974
Babar and the Wully-Wully (Babar et le Wouly-Wouly) - 1977
Babar's Mystery (Babar et les quatre voleurs) - 1979
Babar and the Ghost (Babar et le fantôme) - 1981
Babar and his Little Girl (Babar et sa fille Isabelle) - 1988
Babar's Battle (La victoire de Babar) - 1992
Babar's Rescue (Babar et la cité perdue) - 1995
Babar and the Succotash Bird (Babar et l'oiseau magicien) - 2000
Babar's Yoga for Elephants (Babar: le yoga des éléphants) - 2002
Babar's Museum of Art (Le musée de Babar) - 2003
Babar's World Tour (Le tour du monde de Babar) - 2005
Babar's Celesteville Games (Coup de foudre aux Jeux de Célesteville) - 2011
Babar's Guide to Paris (Babar à Paris) - 2017

I have found some other English titles that I could not relate to any French originals. I would assume they exist but the pages are not always great with different kind of translations and even Goodreads doesn't have them all.
A tue-tete - 1957
Serafina the Giraffe - 1961
Serafina's Lucky Find - 1962
Captain Serafina - 1963
Anatole and His Donkey -1963
Babar's French Lessons -1963
Babar Learns to Cook -1967
Babar Loses His Crown -1967
Babar Learns to Cook - 1967
Babar's Games -1968
Babar Goes Skiing -
Babar's Moon Trip -1969
Babar's Trunk -1969
Gregory and the Lady Turtle in the Valley of the Music Trees- 1971
Babar's Other Trunk -1971
Babar Visits Another Planet - 1972
Meet Babar and His Family -1973
Babar's Bookmobile -1974
Bonhomme and the Huge Beast- 1974
Babar Saves the Day -1976
The One Pig with Horns- 1979
Babar the Magician -1980
Babar's Little Library -1980
Babar's Anniversary Album -1981
Babar's A.B.C -1983
Babar's Book of Colour -1984
Babar's Counting Book -1986
Christmas with Babar & Baby Isabelle. 1987
Babar's Adventures, Calendar for 1988- 1988
Babar's Little Circus Star -1988
Babar in Hollywood, Calendar for 1990- 1989
Babar's Busy Year -1989
Babar in History, Calendar for 1991- 1990
Isabelle's New Friend -1990
Babar Goes to School - 2003
Babar's USA- 2008
Babar and His Family (An adaptation of Meet Babar and His Family. 1973) - 2012
B Is for Babar: An Alphabet Book (An adaptation of Babar's A.B.C.. 1983) - 2012
Babar and the New Baby (An adaptation of Babar's Little Girl. 1987) - 2013
L'île du Paradis -2014

Have fun with the elephant family.

From the back cover:

"The first of the tales starring the most famous elephant in the literary world.

In this classic that has delighted three generations of readers,
Babar escapes from the hunter who killed his mother and comes to town. Here, with the help of an old friend, he will learn a lot of new things and one day, once returned to the great forest, he will be acclaimed King of the elephants!

A story beautifully told accompanied by fascinating and hilarious illustrations!
A must read for kids of any age!


  1. I remember loving Babar as a child. I had no idea there were SO MANY Babar books, though. Wow!

    1. Neither did I. I knew there were more than just the one but when I had the list of Jean de Brunhoff's original books, I thought that was that. Then I found there were even more by his son. I remember seeing his first name when my boys read them but I somehow always thought they wrote them together.

      I just thought this fits well into "Paris in July".

      Thanks for your visit, Susan.

  2. Replies
    1. I don't think they were as popular in the States. But I think Eleanor might enjoy them. They are not all just picture books.