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The Travels of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

The Travels of Babar

by Jean de Brunhoff

Series: Babar (2)

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The Travels of Babar tells of King Babar's and Queen Celeste's wedding trip in a balloon. It is an unlucky trip. They are captured by cannibals, and then after they escape, they are put in a circus. they escape and reunite with a kind old woman that they had met. She helps them get back to their kingdom. The book is dated, especially in the way it shows other cultures like the African people who are shown as cannibals. ( )
  aleader | Mar 14, 2014 |
Royal pachyderm newlyweds Babar and Celeste set out on their honeymoon voyage in this sequel to Jean de Brunhoff's The Story of Babar, finding that their balloon ride ends in disaster when a storm sends them crash-landing on an island inhabited by "fierce and savage cannibals." Escaping with the help of an obliging whale, the couple endure many more hardships, from being stranded together on a reef to being forced to perform in a circus, before being reunited with the Old Lady who aided Babar in his first adventure, and being returned to their own land. Here, however, they discover that their travails are far from over, as a war with the rhinoceros nation has developed in their absence...

As mentioned in my review of the first volume, the Babar books have garnered quite a bit of critical attention over the last few decades, with accusations of colonialist apologia/celebration coming from some (see the collection of essays, Should We Burn Babar?: Essays on Children's Literature and the Power of Stories), and counter-claims of self-conscious colonialist parody coming from others (see the essay, Freeing the Elephants: What Babar Brought, published in The New Yorker magazine). It wasn't clear to me, reading The Story of Babar, which interpretation was the correct one, and I'm afraid it still isn't. Unfortunately, even without the issue of the colonialist narrative (whatever one makes of it), I found The Travels of Babar painfully offensive. The overtly racist visual depiction of the "savage cannibals" that Babar and Celeste encounter on the tropical island where they land - black skin, exaggerated red lips - was painful to see, and while I accept that it was a product of its time, I cannot see it as anything but a relic of a very ugly past. I think that it cannot be an accident that Gopnick, who penned the defense above, chose to base his argument primarily on the first and third Babar titles (The Story of Babar and Babar the King), and neglected to mention this one. It certainly does not lend itself to the notion that there is no harm in de Brunhoff's work... ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 26, 2013 |
Ah! A journey to far off lands. I just loved these stories. ( )
  stevetempo | Nov 6, 2008 |
Babar and his wife Celeste share a most unusual honeymoon adventure in this 1934 French to English translation. Readers will be reminded of the early publication date through the blackface representations of the savages the new couple come across upon the crash landing of their hot air balloon. The story progresses as the couple faces new obstacles, including being forced to perform in a circus and returning home to find their elephant nation at war. An endearing old lady emerges in the middle of the story who is both a friend and savior to the young couple in more ways than one. The cultural markers in this book point out the need for librarians to ensure they have a diversified collection to balance out the stereotypical representations mentioned earlier. ( )
  artlibby | Oct 14, 2008 |
Hey, no honeymoon is complete without adventure. ( )
  msmalnick | Jul 29, 2006 |
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Babar, the young King of the elephants, and his wife, Queen Celeste, have just left for their wedding trip in a balloon.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394805763, Hardcover)

Babar and Queen Celeste have just been married in this early story from the most famous of elephantine chronicles. They depart for their honeymoon in a hot-air balloon, and at first all seems wonderful as they glide over a charming coastal town that might be St. Tropez before the advent of tourism. Alas, a storm takes them out to sea and then dumps them on a desert island. The fierce, spear-carrying "savages" who subsequently attack them will remind you that this book was written and illustrated in 1934: they are as far from politically correct as you can get. And the war between the elephants and the rhinoceroses, which ends the story, is also problematic for a modern audience. But the travels and adventures in between show all the excitement and charm that has made the Babar series an enduring hit. (Ages 2 to 6) --Richard Farr

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:21 -0400)

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Babar and Celeste have many adventures as they travel around the world.

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