Histoire de Babar, le Petit Elephant

Histoire de Babar, le Petit Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff cover, an elephant standing upright holding a bowler hat

Histoire de Babar, le Petit Elephant (The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant)

Written by Jean de Brunhoff

Paris, Jardin des Modes, 1931

10.9" x 15"

Kerlan Collection, Children's Literature Research Collections

University of Minnesota Libraries

A painter by training, de Brunhoff entered the children's-book world almost by chance, after his wife, Cécile, improvised a bedtime story for their two sons. The boys insisted their father illustrate the tale, which was set partly in their home city of Paris. When the artist's brother and brother-in-law, publishers of the deluxe fashion magazine Le Jardin des Modes, had a look at the resulting homemade album, they insisted on publishing it for the trade. The bittersweet tale of an orphaned elephant's new life appeared in a suitably elephantine trim, with the text handwritten in de Brunhoff's own charming cursive script. An immediate commercial success, the book was soon recognized, in France and beyond, as a model of graphically bold and playful picture-book design.


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Art of the Picture Book
The Size and Shape of Things
Histoire de Babar, le Petit Elephant