Long live Babar!

I remember one uncomfortably hot sticky summer night as a 7-year-old in the Bronx, when the only relief was sitting on the cold floor at bedtime, happily distracted by the tale of Babar. Only question I had at the time was why he’d go from naked-and-breezy to fully-clothed (too hot!) in urban France. Ha! I loved the large trim size of that book. It was an American edition with the text either set or hand-lettered in script.

I also remembered being shaken by the deaths of Babar’s mother, and of the mushroom-poisoned king. Not something you’d see in American children’s books, which made this book all-the-more fascinating.

Here is Jean de Brunhoffs rough draft, created circa 1930, a handmade booklet. It measured 8.125 x 6.125 inches.

Cover of an original book dummy for "The Story of Babar"

An original book dummy of "The Story of Babar"

This “maquette” is part of a collection of drafts and drawings housed at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, donated acquired in 2004 as the gift of Laurent, Mathieu, and Thierry de Brunhoff (and purchased with the assistance of The Florence Gould Foundation and the Acquisitions Fund, Fellows Endowment Fund, Gordon N. Ray Fund, and Heineman Fund).

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I’m happy to see Babar live on through the pen of Jean’s son, Laurent de Brunhoff. Check out this interview:

An interview with Laurent de Brunhoff with New Yor Times writer Pamela PaulThe 80th Anniversary of Babar


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