Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Babar and Father Christmas

I have a confession to make: I didn't grow up reading Babar.

I know. It's like I didn't have a childhood.

Anyway, as an adult I've read two stories about Babar: the first Babar story, and Babar and Father Christmas. In Babar and Father Christmas, Babar's children hear that a magical being called Father Christmas visits human children--but why doesn't he visit elephant children? Babar is an excellent king and father, so he sets off to speak to Father Christmas and hopefully persuade him to come to Elephant Land (or wherever it is that Babar lives). Father Christmas can't come, but he inspires Babar to be Father Christmas in his place. Ta-da! Best elephant Christmas ever.

There are a couple of things about Babar stories, including this one, that make them interesting. One is that they were written in the 1930s. The second is that they were written in French, and then translated to English. Put the two together, and you get text that sounds a bit different from the storybooks of today. I, personally, think it's kind of charming.

The only downside to Babar and Father Christmas is that it's l-o-o-ng. Read it to a child who has a good attention span, or maybe just read a little of it at a time. Some kids might have questions about words or phrases that sound different from today's English, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

Babar and Father ChristmasWritten and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff
Age range*: 3-6
My rating: 5 stars [out of five]

*Age ranges are very flexible.

Full disclosure: I don't receive any compensation for reviewing children's books--the books are usually just checked out from the local library.

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