Virtual Children's Books Exhibits


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Under The Sea




7.  Jean de Brunhoff, author/illustrator.
Babar en famille.
Paris: Hachette, 1938.

de Brunhoff charges this illustration of King Babar rescuing his little son Alexander with just the right soupçon of suspense. Readers shiver to see how close Alexander came to the sharp teeth of the crocodile, but also cheer when they see that it won't snap him up after all. Other details like the royal crown drifting to the sandy bottom, the impeccable black shoes with white gaiters kicking up foam, and the famous green suit soaked, communicate the urgency of the situation as they comically defuse the tension.

The first story in the Babar series was first translated into English in 1934, with an introduction by A. A. Milne, the creator of Pooh and Piglet, which was certainly a factor in its success. The large format, the beautiful handwritten text, and high quality color lithography of the Babar books made a strong impact on British illustrators. de Brunhoff clearly was an influence on Kathleen Hale and you can compare this illustration with hers (number 13 in the exhibition). (Image Credits)