Monday, February 11, 2013

Babar's Travels by Jean de Brunhoff

This is the second book in the Babar series which was first published in 1932.  It is a relatively uncomplicated tale of two newly wed elephants, Babar and Celeste, who are on their honeymoon, only it is not the straight forward travel they were most likely expecting. When I read these books to my daughter, Nicola, it was purely to enjoy the delightfully intricate and colourful illustrations, and due to the fact that she loved elephants and any stories about them. However, some readers have found these books to be politically and morally offensive citing them as a justification of colonialism. Anyway, the hot air balloon leg of the honeymoon was going well until a violent storm sees them dashed down onto an island. Celeste soon finds herself surrounded by what some critics have labelled stereotypical Sambo cannibals, who just so happen to have big appetites. Then we meet a forgetful whale who leaves them stranded on an island, soon after which they are rescued and put on a steam ship, only to find themselves having to perform in a circus. Meanwhile back in the elephant kingdom, the rhinos have caused chaos. Can Babar and Celeste free themselves from their unsatisfying performances to get back in time to save the kingdom.? 

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