(Baabar? or B-barr? Which do you say? I say Baa-bar. :)
This elephant king was gracious and sweet and fun, but was kind of concerned that folks throughout time haven't always taken him right.
Babar took us aside and told us plainly that he "is not a French colonialist, nor prejudiced towards blacks, nor an elitist with a class issue. I'm just a good, big elephant who has taste and style and tries to make the world a more fun and orderly place."
The adults (notice I didn't say "grown-ups") in our StoryBook Club, did delve into all those political issues that have plagued this cute wee children's story.
When I first read Babar to my girls when they were little, I also was personally taken aback by some of these idiosyncrasies. I didn't like the way that Africans were depicted. I didn't like the hierarchy of elephants into classes. I didn't like the way it was culturally organized.
But then again, I wasn't 5-years-old either. To my little girls, Babar was awesome. He was big and silly and he liked to dress nice and travel and adventure and fix problems. We liked the fact that he could be a wild elephant, but also magically fit into spare clothes that the Old Lady had on hand. Babar and his wife Celeste would often visit the Old Lady and sleep in her twin beds. Just think of that. An elephant sleeping comfortably in a twin bed!
Elephants drinking out of tea cups. Elephants taking balloon rides. Elephants having posh parties!
He's just for fun.
Granted, there are these issues in the books. Just like there are issues in Civil War music and Minstrel Shows of by gone days. But remember, they are a time capsule. A snapshot of that point in time. We should be aware of people's feelings and be respectful, but at the same time, it's good to remember and note that things have changed for the better with these issues.
But 5-year-olds don't need the conspiracy theories.
They need story figures who run into trouble and problems and can fix it magically and maybe even a bit silly with a sentence or two.
And that's what Babar is.
He's simple and fun and he wears a green suit. He loves his wife and children and he tries to take responsibility the best he knows how. He protects his elephants and he is kind to the Old Lady and to animals that aren't as big as he is. He is truthful and resourceful.
Babar is a good role model overall. Try not to make him responsible for human beings foibles.
We ate well at our monthly meeting!
Themed food was prepared and devoured!
There was Tea in china cups, "French" Onion Soup, Stuffed "poison" mushrooms,
Chili, fresh bread and real butter, Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup, Peanuts and delicious homemade Peanut butter cookies!
Because we know that elephants remember...and they like to eat well.
A lovely get together with intelligent folks on a cold and wintry night. With a story!
In honor of St. Paddy's Day the theme will be: "Leprechauns!"