Babar the King – Jean de Brunhoff

More in the Series – Babar
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 1 out of 10.

Bechdel: 0 points
Variety of characters: 0 points
Good story:  1 point
Discretionary ideological points: 0 points

I am afraid I really cannot give this book very much credit. Not only does it utterly fail the Bechdel, and smell quite strongly of some pretty old school colonialism, but it’s not even a well structured story!

The only female character who has a name is Celeste (Babar’s queen) who gets exactly two words of dialogue in the whole book. The other major female character is known simply as The Old Lady, and she exists basically to provide trite “wise” aphorisms and a plot point for Babar.

The gist of this story is that all Babar’s stuff from his travels arrives home, and he uses it to bribe the elephants to help him build a town (which he, like any good monarch, names after his almost-silent queen: Celesteville). There is much peace and prosperity, and then it is as if the author suddenly realised that a book needs some conflict, so out of the blue the Old Lady is bitten by a snake and Babar’s mentor Cornelius’ house gets burned down.

Fortunately the Old Lady has her wisdom aphorism app working, so she assures Babar (after a night’s recovery in hospital) that troubles are only there to make us appreciate what we have (or some similar nonsense), and they all go on happily and wiser. Or something.

C said he liked it, but I can’t help but think that’s because elephants, basically. I found the story disjointed, the overt colonial themes annoying, and just generally was not impressed.

Skip it.

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