Check out the Chicago Archive Reuse Competition Hub! Read the Story

00 / 00

Discussing the book "Babar's anniversary album" with the author Laurent de Brunhoff

BROADCAST: Nov. 11, 1981 | DURATION: 00:55:10

Synopsis

Discussing the book "Babar's anniversary album" with the author Laurent de Brunhoff.

Transcript

Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.

OK

Studs Terkel You know, throughout history there always has been some work of literature or of painting that attracts children. And to do that, children the world over, it has to have a note of wonder to it, but also an aspect of truth to it, too. One of the celebrated of all favorites of children reading in all languages I imagine is Babar the elephant, which was created by Jean de Brunhoff back in 1931, and it's the 50th anniversary, and after the death of Mr. Brunhoff, his son Laurent picked it up, and he continues with the story of Babar, "Babar the King". You might call him a kindly benign philosopher king -- oh, he doesn't philosophize too much, he just delights in life and so Babar's anniversary album has just been put out by Random House, and there are six quite remarkable adventures, three by the creator Jean de Brunhoff, that's "Babar the King", no, first it's "The Story of Babar", and then "The Travels of Babar", and "Babar the King", and my guest is Laurent de Brunhoff, who picks it up with "Babar's Surprise Party [sic - "Babar's Birthday Surprise"]", "Babar's Mystery", and "Babar and the Wully-Wully", and it's about a certain, a world of Babar and his friends. His family and his friends, and there's an introduction here, very moving, by Maurice Sendak, and so in a moment my guest Laurent de Brunhoff who will probably I hope read from Babar, too, as tell how it came to be in his approach. After this message. [pause in recording]

Laurent de Brunhoff [Music plays, then fades] "In the Great Forest, a little elephant was born. His name was Babar. His mother loved him very much. She rocked him to sleep with her trunk while singing softly to him. Babar grew bigger. Soon he played with the other little elephants. He was a very good little elephant. See him digging, digging in the sand with his shell. One day Babar was riding happily on his mother's back when a wicked hunter, hidden behind some bushes, shot at them. The hunter's shot killed Babar's mother. The monkey hid, the birds flew away, and Babar cried. Then the hunter ran up to catch poor Babar, too. Babar ran away because he was afraid of the hunter. After several days, very tired indeed, he came to a town."

Studs Terkel And that town is Paris and so the adventures, "The Story of Babar" begins. And that was Laurent de Brunhoff, enough who is the creator of the Babar today. I was thinking as you read that, and we should point out this is radio, and we don't see these delightful illustrations and drawings go along with it, immediately someone says, "My God, how shocking. A children's story suddenly his mother is killed."

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, yes, I know that it's a question very often asked to me. And I'm not responsible, because it was my father's book and it was not even my father's idea, because it was my mother who told the first, I could say the first spark of the story of Babar, and she had this idea of the hunter killing the mother.

Studs Terkel So that's how it began, your father was something of an avant-garde painter in Paris in the '20s, and

Laurent de Brunhoff Not only avant-garde, no, he was not at all cubist or fauvist, or something like that, very kind and benign as you said for the elephant.

Studs Terkel A benign

Laurent de Brunhoff Benign painter. Very. Quite.

Studs Terkel But your mother was telling you and your little brother a story of a, of an elephant.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. She told us very often stories as any mother do. Does. And this story of a little elephant escaping the hunter and coming to town, we were very excited about it. So we told the story to my father, and he got the idea of making a book for us. Just for us.

Studs Terkel You know, that's how it began. And of course the series of books, and Babar came into being. Maurice Sendak, one of your colleagues, who is highly gifted

Laurent de Brunhoff Good friend of ours.

Studs Terkel And he wrote a beautiful introduction to this book. And he, he speaks of this and he says somehow he was so moved, and he misinterpreted it first when he read it as a small child, and he began to see Babar and the effect it has on children, the wonder and the mother. We come to this. In a way, your father and you were saying life is incredible, but there's also something called death that we have to recognize.

Laurent de Brunhoff And I think the, the old lady's human character who is a very important character in the book is somehow taking the place of the mother. And maybe in a way it is, it is a way of saying there is death but also that is something normal and good things happen, too.

Studs Terkel And so life and -- but throughout the idea is that life is delightful. This is what it's about. Because there's a gentleness to the book that I suppose makes the book today, the books I should say, the stories, more necessary than ever in these strange times.

Laurent de Brunhoff I think it's a sort of utopia of sort of a dream but with enough reality in it to, to not be not being too different, too puzzling for the child. And in the same time, it is completely dream.

Studs Terkel It's a dream, and yet it's Babar who comes to town, he's bereft of his mother, and we can't help but -- I have to point out one of these pictures that is so moving. It is -- these are works of art as done by Jean Laurent [sic - Jean de Brunhoff], the father of my guest and carried on by you. Laurent. That's -- there's the lady, his mother. And he's crying. We see it, but it's done -- like what, a not a realistic painting, and yet the emotion is there.

Laurent de Brunhoff That's right. Yes.

Studs Terkel And there's also -- who else points up before we ask you to read some more, you've got to read, you read some more. Someone points out that he never forgot this, Babar.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, but I think Sendak insisted a little too much on that. My feeling is that of course Babar is an orphan at the beginning of the saga, but he very soon became king and father. And this is what he is now.

Studs Terkel Well, let's continue with the adventures. Now comes to the town turns out to be Paris.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel And Babar, he meets this old lady, the one human throughout the book, is this gentle old lady who becomes as you say his

Laurent de Brunhoff Sort of grandmother.

Studs Terkel His grandmother, and now she's taking care -- one little before I, don't mean to leave the mother, but I have a friend who when his little girl was 2 years old, said to him, I asked him about his father. He said, "My father died. He's dead," says my friend to his little girl. She said, "Did the hunter kill him?" Meaning of course obviously she knew Babar.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel So Babar is the world over, isn't

Laurent de Brunhoff Oh, yes, yes. Even in Japan or in all the European countries.

Studs Terkel So let's continue. Babar now is taken care of by the -- and he's got to be dressed up, right? He's, he's -- shall we read some more of Babar getting dressed? We're meeting him now. Now he's adopting, he's adapting himself to big city life. You pick it up anywhere you want. We see. We should point out when Mayor LaGuardia did

Laurent de Brunhoff After he has, the old lady is --"She, she understood that he was longing for a fine suit, because Babar was looking at some people in the street well-dressed, and she liked to make people happy. So she gave him her purse. Babar said politely, 'Thank you, Madame.' Without wasting a time, Babar went into a big store. He took the elevator and had such fun riding up and down, he did not want to stop, but the elevator boy said, 'This is not a toy, Mr. Elephant.' Babar then bought himself a shirt with a collar and tie, a suit of a becoming shade of green."

Studs Terkel Of course we see all this happening in the

Laurent de Brunhoff -- "Then a handsome derby hat and also shoes with spats."

Studs Terkel And now he's dressed up.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. He's so, so, has so, what? "[With?] very satisfied with his purchases and feeling very elegant, indeed, Babar went to the photographer to have his picture taken. And afterward he went to the old lady and he lived with in his -- her house."

Studs Terkel And of course she's taking a bath, and there's a sponge there. I suppose one of the attractions to children is also Babar is doing the most natural thing in the world. He's just natural, he fits in -- Babar could be a boy or a girl human.

Laurent de Brunhoff Exactly. Exactly.

Studs Terkel And so when he's going up and down the elevator like little kids do, too, he "Wait a minute," says -- that he could be -- the child identifies with Babar.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, he's no more of an elephant I think.

Studs Terkel No more an elephant. But even though he's happy with the lady -- oh, in the meantime he's got a little cousin named Celeste and another cousin, who's, who's kind of a

Laurent de Brunhoff Mischief.

Studs Terkel Mischievous one,

Laurent de Brunhoff Arthur.

Studs Terkel And then they come to town.

Laurent de Brunhoff And they meet Babar, and Babar was very excited because he had never -- he hadn't seen an elephant for a couple of years, and he decided to go back to the great forest,

Studs Terkel Of course, now we can't get away from the fact that Babar is also homesick.

Laurent de Brunhoff That's right.

Studs Terkel He's homesick. But in the meantime, all the others elephants, there's a big pictures, a two-page picture here, the elephants realize Celeste and Arthur are missing, and they're calling out.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. "And the bird had seen them in town, so he come and tells the elephants Arthur and Celeste are in town."

Studs Terkel So he wants to go back, and the old lady knows it, he likes the old lady, but she knows she's gotta let them go back. So they're all dressed up, and so Babar went away, he and Celeste and Arthur back and so there's no room in the car for the elephants' mothers. Oh, the elephants' mothers came looking for them.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. Yes.

Studs Terkel So it is again like kids who got lost or who disappeared from the house of people. They're looking for them, and now they come back. Right?

Laurent de Brunhoff They are back in the country. The elephants.

Studs Terkel This is elephant country.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel And of course this is unusual, because they've been away, but they come back dressed up in those clothes and they got an automobile.

Laurent de Brunhoff Nice red automobile, yes, and all the elephant are very excited.

Studs Terkel And so back they come, and now, and now, something happens here. The king of the

Laurent de Brunhoff The old King get poisoned by a bad mushroom.

Studs Terkel Bad mushroom.

Laurent de Brunhoff And he died, too.

Studs Terkel And so the question is, what are they going to do? But there's a wise old man there.

Laurent de Brunhoff Cornelius.

Studs Terkel Cornelius.

Laurent de Brunhoff Cornelius.

Studs Terkel He's, he's the sage, and he's the wise man. And Babar came just at that time with the clothes and everything, and so Cornelius says, now I'm going to be Fiorello LaGuardia. He was the mayor of New York and every Sunday morning he'd read with a great deal of excitement all the comic strips, so I'll be LaGuardia. "And then Cornelius, he had a very high voice. Cornelius, the oldest elephant said, 'Why not choose Babar for King? He has learned so much in the city.' The other elephants agreed. 'If I am King,' said Babar, 'Celeste will be your queen.' And then Babar said, 'You have good ideas, Cornelius. I will therefore make you a general.'" You know, well after all, Babar, he's got to like Cornelius, Cornelius said, "You be the king."

Laurent de Brunhoff Of course, and he said, "When I have the crown, I'll give you my hat."

Studs Terkel "I'll give you my hat!" And now we come to something. Here's Babar is very human being, isn't he? And he's also, Babar is not a wild spendthrift, is he?

Laurent de Brunhoff No, no, not at all. He's very civilized, I think. I think the fact he become a king is a remembrance -- I'm speaking of my father, of the fairy tales, classic fairy tales where they are where always king, queen, princess and so forth. That's I think where the idea of making Babar a king come. It is not because my father was a royalist.

Studs Terkel But it's part of, you're right, the old fairy tales and sagas, it's about royalty, the king anyway, but they're benign. And here's the wedding of course, now they're in robes, and the key, isn't it, the little crowns on their heads. The Queen's crown and the larger King's crown

Laurent de Brunhoff And Cornelius with his

Studs Terkel And as Cornelius wearing Babar's old hat, and he's right, he's not going to throw the hat away, he's thrifty.

Laurent de Brunhoff Oh, no, no.

Studs Terkel And so now you have the wedding and hears of -- every now and then we have these two-page pictures, and here is kind of the wedding dance, and everybody's there. Oh, by the way, not just elephants, but visiting people visiting

Laurent de Brunhoff All the beasts of the jungle is hippopotamus, lions

Studs Terkel -- A rhinoceros.

Laurent de Brunhoff Rhinoceros.

Studs Terkel We'll come to that, there's later on there's a war with the rhinos, they're all there, and of course the monkeys. There's a monkey hangs around, that's Zephyr.

Laurent de Brunhoff Zephyr, yes.

Studs Terkel Zephir.

Laurent de Brunhoff Zephir, we say.

Studs Terkel And they're playing, they're the musicians.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, Arthur is musician, too.

Studs Terkel Oh, Arthur! Oh, his cousin Arthur, he plays the drum, doesn't he? And so that is the wedding and now, that's Queen Celeste and King Babar, and of Book One. And now we continue with your father's works, "The Travels of Babar".

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, yes. After it's the wedding travel.

Studs Terkel But there's something here. How would you describe it? As Babar -- King Babar and Queen Celeste go off on a balloon.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel There's some of -- and there's the hat with Cornelius and there's Arthur with a sailor suit. We just see their backs. That's kind of wistful and fun. There's as a combination there, isn't there, of humor, gentle humor, and solemnity. You know.

Laurent de Brunhoff I see what you mean, it is sort of solemn, because

Studs Terkel A wistful here.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, it is a great responsibility for Cornelius to be, to replace the king while he's traveling.

Studs Terkel Oh, yeah, Cornelius is in charge there, why he's got the -- with it Babar's old hat, and now come these pictures, don't they? They're on the, the king and queen and the balloon, and they're seeing shores and beaches; of course, the drawing itself. How would you describe your father's and then your drawings? How would you describe the drawings?

Laurent de Brunhoff In what sense?

Studs Terkel I don't know. They're simple. They're very simple, there's a comic touch, the little eyes, at the same time there's always a little note of wistfulness here all the time.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, there is a sort of glance of humor, and the details catch the eye of the child.

Studs Terkel But it's also that which a child himself might -- or herself might experience, too.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, I think that the child has a special way of looking at the book which is not always exactly the way that the author thought it was, but it doesn't matter as long though there is a story. The child invent his own story.

Studs Terkel Could you expand on that a little, Mr. de Brunhoff? The [attitude?] the child. You have -- your father and then you did stories for young people and the drawings of Babar, Celeste, their adventures. But the child has his own imagination too as he sees this.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, and sometimes a details of an illustration can strike a child and he build up his own story from this little detail. And he -- there is his own ways of building the story.

Studs Terkel I imagine you yourself run into children in since you've been working on Babar, and they come up with stuff you haven't thought of, I suppose.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel They saw things you didn't see, even though you've created them. Where are we now? We're with the travels. And they're traveling around, they're on a boat.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. They had an accident with the balloon, and they travel on the back of the whale, and now they are

Studs Terkel Oh, wait, something happens here. A terrible accident happens, they lose their crowns.

Laurent de Brunhoff That's right. Yes, so

Studs Terkel -- Then

Laurent de Brunhoff Nobody know that they are king and queen of the elephant.

Studs Terkel I think maybe perhaps you should read this and describe some of the paintings, 'cause now they're just elephants.

Laurent de Brunhoff That's it.

Studs Terkel And they're in -- among humans. So, and they got no crowns!

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. So the captain of the boat offered these elephant to Mr. Fernando, who has a circus. And what can they do about that, because they cannot prove they are king and queen. So Babar play a trumpet while Celeste dance in the

Studs Terkel We should describe this, this is a large, again one of the large two-page pictures, and even though people are watching, they're getting a kick out of it it seems, some are, some are not. But there's -- she got a little tutu? What's this called?

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, a tutu.

Studs Terkel That's a, Celeste dancing to it. And there's the animal trainer, and Babar, he's [gotta attend?] the circus and he's playing a trumpet. But you know they're not happy.

Laurent de Brunhoff Of course not. They would like to escape from the circus and come back to their elephant country.

Studs Terkel And of course they do.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. One night they escape, and it was just in the city where the little old lady is living, and Babar ring at the door and the old lady say, "Who is it?" And there is the answer: "It's us."

Studs Terkel And so she takes care of them and now they're back again where they're, with their regular suits on and back. But you notice one thing I notice here? Throughout, this is your father's work and yours, there's no one really very malicious or bad here. We'll come to the war with the rhinoceros in a minute. Even the animal, the circus people are not villainous. You know, they're

Laurent de Brunhoff Not really. They're do their job, and they are not villain.

Studs Terkel But in this utopia, in this world of Babar, there is no one really evil.

Laurent de Brunhoff Sometimes it's happened. You will see.

Studs Terkel Oh,

Laurent de Brunhoff Later, the rhinoceros, but even then there is a bad thing, a bad war coming, but afterward it's finished and the world is again

Studs Terkel -- Explain

Laurent de Brunhoff Nice.

Studs Terkel And they have a peace treaty.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel And there's a very funny one at the end with the Wully-Wully. We'll come to that. So now they're having a good time, and they're skiing. Oh, by the way, Babar and Celeste are kind of some would say they're middle-class people because they go skiing, they go boating, they go driving. They play tennis.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. As a middle-class people do.

Studs Terkel Someone made a crack at that. Someone's kidding a little.

Laurent de Brunhoff You say it's a bizarre king in a way.

Studs Terkel Oh,

Laurent de Brunhoff A

Studs Terkel He is a king. A middle-class king! That's what he is. So there they are on the beach, and what happens here?

Laurent de Brunhoff No, no, they are coming back to the elephant country, and there is the war with the rhinoceros.

Studs Terkel Oh, now, oh, now we come to the subject. Now there's a war. What was the war about? The rhinoceroses.

Laurent de Brunhoff The rhinoceroses were very, very angry because Arthur had put a, a -- how do you call that, the crackers? [French] go 'Boum!" like that.

Studs Terkel A

Laurent de Brunhoff A firecracker, that's it. Yes. On the tails, on the tail of the rhinoceros.

Studs Terkel Who? Arthur did it.

Laurent de Brunhoff Arthur

Studs Terkel Oh, now, Arthur the cousin, we should point out, Arthur is very mischievous.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. Sometimes.

Studs Terkel And so he put the firecracker, and that started it.

Laurent de Brunhoff Voila, and the rhinoceros Rataxes was so angry that he declared war.

Studs Terkel So the war, and now we see the rhinoceroses, and they've got their little hats on.

Laurent de Brunhoff Sort of a helmet.

Studs Terkel Helmets! They got the helmets on, and the shields around their necks like aprons, and so they're -- these are the enemy. But Babar -- who got the idea? Babar got a great -- was it Babar got the

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, Babar got the idea of painting the bottom of the elephant with big eyes and the tail in red.

Studs Terkel We see this. These are like bull's-eyes, only they're rhinoceroses' backsides, and these are eyes and looks, so when the elephants are backing, backing in, it looks like they're going ahead with huge eyes.

Laurent de Brunhoff That's it. Yes. And the rhinoceros, they are very surprised and scared, because they think it's monsters.

Studs Terkel Because they have wigs, too.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel So we see, we see the backsides of the elephants with little orange tails and all kinds of wigs, and the rhinoceros are running away like crazy. On the day of the battle at just the right moment, we see this by the way, the disguised elephants came out of hiding, Babar's bright idea has succeeded, the rhinoceroses thought they were monsters and terrified, they retreat in great disorder. King Babar was a mighty fine general, like Alexander the Great. And now.

Laurent de Brunhoff Now that the war is over and everybody is happy.

Studs Terkel And there's finally a peace, but we got a end. It doesn't [get into?] it. There is a peace treaty. I think at the very end.

Laurent de Brunhoff Not really, it is just the end.

Studs Terkel It's just the end of the war.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, and the important thing is that the little old lady decide to stay at the elephant country with Babar.

Studs Terkel And she's going to become a teacher.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, that's right.

Studs Terkel And so the last of the three stories, three of the stories of your father, in this -- we should point out that this is Random House's anniversary album, "Six Favorite Babar Stories", three by Jean de Brunhoff, and three by my guest his son, Laurent de Brunhoff. The third of Jean de Brunhoff's is "Babar the King". We continue. And now the old lady has become a teacher.

Laurent de Brunhoff No, not really, not yet. First, Babar is now building his town, because he wants the elephant to have a town.

Studs Terkel Oh, and the town of course named after the queen.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. Celesteville. The Queen is Celeste. So like he

Studs Terkel For Elizabeth or Anne's town. So it's Celeste town, and now is the building of the town.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel And there's a little phonograph there. The old lady introduced the phonograph. There's Cornelius with Babar's old hat.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel In a place called Grand Avenue and now they're building and even Zephyr, the little monkey and Arthur, they're the kids, they're helping the people dig and build it. And now we see Celeste

Laurent de Brunhoff There is Celeste at the end.

Studs Terkel It's come into being now, hasn't it? There's an amusement hall, there's a library, there's a workshop.

Laurent de Brunhoff And all the little houses are just the same.

Studs Terkel And you know the song "Ticky-tacky houses"? "Little boxes, little boxes", you know that song? It's a song about suburban homes in all countries and here are little suburban homes. The houses are all the same. And so we come to -- there's a song of the elephants. Yes. You know how that goes.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel Do you know

Laurent de Brunhoff Oh, I could not sing it, [French song]. That's the way it goes.

Studs Terkel So it's sort of a gibberish, kind of [empty?] song of the elephants. And now again we come to a huge picture, Sunday in the park.

Laurent de Brunhoff And we should say the important thing is now not only Babar has built his town, but all the elephant get dressed as he and Celeste. They are dressed in wonderful costumes.

Studs Terkel Of course, and now the elephants are recognized by the readers, by the young readers as that they have clothes on, too, fashionably dressed, 'cause this is Sunday, they're in their Sunday clothes.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. This is a feast.

Studs Terkel The Sunday clothes. And now before we take a break, occupations are coming in. They're going to go to -- they're learning different occupations.

Laurent de Brunhoff Here that the old lady is a teacher for the young kid and every elephant has his own job. Here there is a peasant, here

Studs Terkel What's he called? He's called

Laurent de Brunhoff Poutifour. Yes.

Studs Terkel He's the peasant.

Laurent de Brunhoff He's the doctor. Capoulosse.

Studs Terkel Capoulosse is the doctor, he has, he has a case later on. Tap

Laurent de Brunhoff -- Tapitor.

Studs Terkel Tapitor is

Laurent de Brunhoff How do you

Studs Terkel Shoemaker.

Laurent de Brunhoff Shoemaker, yes.

Studs Terkel Fandago is what?

Laurent de Brunhoff He's a scientist.

Studs Terkel A scientist. Barbacol is a tailor, Doulamor is a musician. He's playing a cello.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel Justinien is a painter.

Laurent de Brunhoff And there's Coco the clown.

Studs Terkel Coco the clown, and Podular is going to have a big project later on. The sculptor.

Laurent de Brunhoff Aha. Yes.

Studs Terkel And so now they're in a theater. They're sitting -- well, perhaps we should -- before we come to the end of Babar and the adventures, we've got to end with [theater?], a big parade, a big march. This is the one that Maurice Sendak loved above all the pictures. He admires of course the works of his of his colleague Jean de Br-- Laurent de Brunhoff as well as his father Jean, and he speaks of this parade, and somehow he mentioned somewhere in his in his introduction, Berlioz's music would be good -- suppose you describe this parade.

Laurent de Brunhoff Then the text of my father says, "A big celebration was planned on the anniversary of the founding of Celesteville. The weather was perfect. Arthur marched at the head of the parade with Zephir and the band. Cornelius followed, his hat completely [transformed?]. Then came the soldiers and the trade companies. All those who were not marching watched this unforgettable spectacle."

Unidentified Musicians [Musical piece by Berlioz]

Studs Terkel And there's the Berlioz, the parade. And what makes this particular picture endearing, the most [of them?], we know it's comical, at the same time it's very serious and very solemn.

Laurent de Brunhoff It's sort of how to call that, "defile," a demonstration.

Studs Terkel A demonstration because you've got different people marching and demonstrating their work. Gardeners and farmers and they're carrying stacks of wheat and they're carrying flowers and they're the so -- they're the pastry cooks and they're carrying pieces of cake. Sailors are carrying fish, the mechanics and chauffeurs with their tools. One -- and of course one for all, and all for one. That's more or less the -- and there on a pedestal as though it were a pedestal, on a horse and his robe, is mounted King Babar. There's an accident, and doctor

Laurent de Brunhoff This story who had started very nicely had some dramatic, and the house of Cornelius is on fire.

Studs Terkel Catches on fire. Because Cornelius could be absent-minded, Cornelius -- he dropped a match into a wastebasket or something, and so that's how it started. But the doctor, Doctor Capoulosse. Capoulosse.

Laurent de Brunhoff Capoulosse.

Studs Terkel Capoulosse, he takes care of things so it works out okay.

Laurent de Brunhoff Babar is very worried and he had bad dreams during the night.

Studs Terkel But it worked out. So this is the first half of the book. The second half are your works. You pick up now. And suppose we take a pause now for a moment with my guest Laurent de Brunhoff and we've listened to the first three stories of Jean de Brunhoff back in the '30s. Your father died in 1937, was it?

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel And then years passed. We'll pick this up after this intermission. [pause in recording] Resuming with Laurent de Brunhoff and Babar's anniversary album, and now became, now your, now your work begins. You're picking up. How many years elapsed?

Laurent de Brunhoff Oh, my first book was made in '46. Quite a while. And at that time I was twenty year, I was a painter as my father was, but not in the same style. I made rather abstract painting. But my Babar was my friends since I was a little boy, so I thought it was very, very sad that his stories were stopped by the death of my father. So I tried to make a book to continue the

Studs Terkel How many years elapsed between your father's last work and yours?

Laurent de Brunhoff He died in '37, and his two last books were published after his death. So there is a war afterward, and so almost, almost ten years

Studs Terkel You picked that up. Now, how did you, since you are not -- you painted differently than your father did. What did you do, because it's uncanny. There's still you. You are Laurent and not Jean. Still you -- and yet you were able to capture this. I'm sure some, many people thought your father was still painting.

Laurent de Brunhoff Oh yes, it happened very often. [Unintelligible] sometimes that somebody tell me, "Oh, how I was prepared to meet somebody very old with a white beard or something like that," they don't know that there is two authors.

Studs Terkel Well, it continues. But what would you say? Is there a nuance, a difference? What would you say it is?

Laurent de Brunhoff At first I wanted to be the most faithful possible to the style of my father, otherwise I think it wouldn't mean anything to continue the stories. But of course I'm not exactly the same man. I have my own feelings, and a little bit different as my father, who was maybe a little more simple -- benign you said, and naive in a positive way, you know. I am maybe less tranquille

Studs Terkel Less tranquil.

Laurent de Brunhoff Tranquil as he was.

Studs Terkel And yet it continues, see, you are obviously different, but in reading this, in seeing this, we can't tell yet I suppose there is something, we look at a change, but it's also something else. Maybe it's also Babar himself. Could it be the times, too?

Laurent de Brunhoff Of course. Of course. The '30s were very different from the time being now.

Studs Terkel Now.

Laurent de Brunhoff And even if I am not conscious of it all the time, there is a reflection of my time in the stories I am create.

Studs Terkel Before you do some readings, as you did of your father's, of yours now, "Babar's Surprise Party [sic - "Babar's Birthday Surprise"]", a question. I don't know if this is answerable or not. Do you find little children today reading Babar in contrast to your reading of Babar when you were little, when your mother told you, your father did it, or little kids you knew. Is -- they have different reactions, or are they the same? Or is something added or lost?

Laurent de Brunhoff I couldn't say that. I, I believe that of course little kids today are influenced by the world of today, but basically they are the same.

Studs Terkel Same.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. And I mean the feeling, the tenderness to the mother or to the pals, or -- it is the same.

Studs Terkel And the imagination.

Laurent de Brunhoff And the imagination, yes.

Studs Terkel And the wonder. See, it's later on I suppose, then the institutions get him.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel Then they

Laurent de Brunhoff That's right.

Studs Terkel Then -- so Babar's -- now we come to Laurent de Brunhoff. Babar -- a surprise. There's a birthday, and Podular the sculptor.

Laurent de Brunhoff This is not my first book. There were many between the three we have read before, and those

Studs Terkel They've chosen just three of your stories.

Laurent de Brunhoff So this is "Babar's Birthday Surprise", and one day Podular the sculptor was putting the finishing touches on a pretty little statue of his friend King Babar. Zephir the monkey watched. Queen Celeste entered Podular's studio with the old lady and cousin Arthur. They all admired Podular's work.

Studs Terkel Now, this is going to be on a mountain, isn't it? It's gonna be

Laurent de Brunhoff This

Studs Terkel This was the studio.

Laurent de Brunhoff But Celeste has the idea

Studs Terkel Oh, I'm sorry.

Laurent de Brunhoff For the anniversary of the birthday of Babar to ask the sculptor to make an enormous statue in the mountains as this place you have.

Studs Terkel Like Gutzon Borglum's up here in the Black Mountains you mean. Yes.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel The presidential heads.

Laurent de Brunhoff Voila. Yes. And there they go, and Podular start sculpting the

Studs Terkel And we're seeing

Laurent de Brunhoff The rocks.

Studs Terkel Podular the -- and we see just as Gutzon Borglum I imagine was doing here, you know, the faces of I guess was Teddy Roosevelt and Washington and Lincoln, and he's -- so here's Babar's face and body being sculpted, and of course the kids are around watching, aren't they? Arthur and Zephir.

Laurent de Brunhoff And the trouble is that they want -- they don't want Babar coming

Studs Terkel Oh, is surprise.

Laurent de Brunhoff Because it is a secret. And each time they hear a noise, they are very scared. But here it is not Babar coming, it is little kids.

Studs Terkel On bicycles -- oh, that by the way Babar and Queen Celeste have three little children.

Laurent de Brunhoff Ah, yes, yes, yes. That was my father's idea. In other book of his.

Studs Terkel Alexander

Laurent de Brunhoff Alexander, Pom, and Flora the little girl.

Studs Terkel So they're coming along on the bike here.

Laurent de Brunhoff My father created this one after the birth of his third son.

Studs Terkel Oh, really?

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel So in conjunction with the birth of your little brother.

Laurent de Brunhoff My second little brother.

Studs Terkel Your second little brother. He created, he added three little kids of King and Queen.

Laurent de Brunhoff That's it, yes.

Studs Terkel That was it. So now in secret everybody knows the big surprise, they're working on, Podular and all his friends are working on this remarkable sculpture.

Laurent de Brunhoff And here Babar was coming and they are very afraid because they think that he will see the statue in the mountains, but no.

Studs Terkel You know what's kind of good? The sculptor. He looks like one of these old-time sculptors in work uniform, like a cap on, or he might have been Picasso with a cap on, I notice some sculptor, and it's so humorous

Laurent de Brunhoff -- Like in Montparnasse.

Studs Terkel Huh?

Laurent de Brunhoff Like in Montparnasse. In Paris.

Studs Terkel Like some of the guys in the art section, going along dressed, working uniforms. And of course kids recognize this, don't they? They see in the picture somewhere a certain -- or someone told them.

Laurent de Brunhoff That yes, maybe they don't -- it is not exactly the same as an American sculptor, but some kind of

Studs Terkel And now, and now people are coming to the gathering, aren't they? To the mountain to surprise Babar.

Laurent de Brunhoff After Arthur has a little accident here, because the scaffolding

Studs Terkel Oh, a scaffolding. He always gets in trouble, doesn't he?

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes. Yes.

Studs Terkel Arthur's always getting in trouble.

Laurent de Brunhoff And so you see when Babar is coming, all the bird are covering the mountain,, the statue, and he cannot see it.

Studs Terkel Oh, the birds are cooperating.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel In keeping the secret. That's what it is, they're birds covering. And now we come to one more of the big pictures, and now the birds fly away, and the band is playing, and people in their [own?] Sunday clothes, all we see is the back, there's always a funny wistful thing, the back of the King and Queen seated, and the old lady is there, and Arthur with his bandaged nose is there, and everybody's really here, and there's old Cornelius, and now we see this remarkable statue, no piece of sculpture. Why don't you read, 'cause this is a great

Laurent de Brunhoff "Cornelius assembled the musicians of the Royal Guards. The trumpets sounded the fanfare. At a signal, all the birds covering the mountain flew up at the same time. The air was filled with the loud fluttering of wings. Babar was stupefied. 'Why, it's me! ... Extraordinary!,' he said, hugging" -- how would you pronounce that?

Studs Terkel Hugging.

Laurent de Brunhoff "Hugging Celeste. 'What a splendid statue! Podular, my friend, I congratulate you. Dear Celeste, I'm very moved. What an enormous surprise.'"

Studs Terkel Yeah. Of course, what's also delightful is your reading of it, too. After lunch, the cooks in the palace -- this is near the end of the story -- brought a wonderful cake. "Happy Birthday!" shouted the children, then Cornelius said, "Babar, it is up to you to cut the cake." Now we come -- "Oh, yes, quickly," added Arthur, sounding funny because the bandage is on his trunk. Everybody cried "Happy Birthday" except for the weary Podular who was fast asleep. He had a big job, and now we come near the end of our hour, too, with -- there are two more stories. No, the end, "Babar's Mystery".

Laurent de Brunhoff "Babar's Mystery" and "Babar and the Wully-Wully".

Studs Terkel And "Babar [and] the Wully-Wully". Perhaps a word about the mystery, because now we come to, some things happen. They were shopping somewhere, weren't they?

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, they were, were shopping in a place

Studs Terkel Was this in Celesteville?

Laurent de Brunhoff No, no, no, this is Celesteville beach.

Studs Terkel Oh, at the

Laurent de Brunhoff beach! [Mutters

Studs Terkel And so they were shopping and there were some -- something was stolen.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, something

Studs Terkel We know who did it, do we?

Laurent de Brunhoff It was

Studs Terkel What was The

Laurent de Brunhoff stolen? The piano, the piano of the hotel

Studs Terkel The piano of the hotel

Laurent de Brunhoff And

Studs Terkel The

Laurent de Brunhoff The car, Babar's car was stolen.

Studs Terkel But there's a cue! Clue.

Laurent de Brunhoff And later on it was the statue who was stolen. There was a statue here. And Babar was supposed to

Studs Terkel Unveil

Laurent de Brunhoff Unveil it for the

Studs Terkel -- And

Laurent de Brunhoff And that was stolen

Studs Terkel -- And [shine?] but a clue was left, a glove.

Laurent de Brunhoff A glove, yes.

Studs Terkel One of the burglars, one of the thieves, lost a glove, and now we have Babar as a detective.

Laurent de Brunhoff It's Arthur.

Studs Terkel Oh, Arthur, of course! Arthur and Zephir are gonna start tracking it down.

Laurent de Brunhoff And finally Arthur come to the lighthouse and he

Studs Terkel They come to the

Laurent de Brunhoff Where the old lady was working

Studs Terkel She was typing away.

Laurent de Brunhoff She

Studs Terkel Some log cabins there.

Laurent de Brunhoff And they hear some noise in the little house.

Studs Terkel That looks like a little outhouse is near the beach there, and they hear a noise

Laurent de Brunhoff After come close and look through the window and he saw four crocodiles, and they are the thieves.

Studs Terkel And one's got a gangster cap on.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, and we can see the red car of Babar at the piano there and the golden statue

Studs Terkel And so we know these are the -- and they're taking the stuff out. And these

Laurent de Brunhoff Guys -- a plan, how do you say that, Babar and the old lady?

Studs Terkel Conceive a plan.

Laurent de Brunhoff Conceive a plan, and

Studs Terkel She's in the lighthouse. Living out there, and they, so

Laurent de Brunhoff She make a noise. And they are, the thieves, the crocodiles think they are discovered. So they get -- enter the fire

Studs Terkel The lighthouse.

Laurent de Brunhoff The lighthouse.

Studs Terkel They want to capture the old lady.

Laurent de Brunhoff And at that time Babar shut the door, and they are prisoner, because the old lady escaped by a

Studs Terkel By a pulley. Sort

Laurent de Brunhoff Sort of

Studs Terkel And she's out.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel And she's -- escapes. And so Babar, who was informed by Arthur came, he shuts the door, and he's got them imprisoned. They imprison the thieves, and the headline of course the next day one of the newspaper account, "Robbers Caught," and read the end of that.

Laurent de Brunhoff "Discovered by Arthur and the old lady, the robbers, a gang of four crocodiles, have been arrested thanks to King's Babar bold strategy. The courage of our dear old lady has won everyone's admiration. The leader of the gang, a rhinoceros, intended to sell the statue and leave on a trip in Babar's car. [The Coast Guard caught him?], as for the theft of the piano, it seemed to have been the idea of the crocodiles, who called themselves musicians."

Studs Terkel The last sentence is very funny, because see, you got this, they're all arrested but the crocodiles stole the piano because here is Babar and the reader saying, you know, these guys are musicians? You know, they really thought they're musicians, see, the last a wistful touch. The last story, or your last story here, in -- published here, is "Babar and the Wully-Wully". Now, a word about the Wully-Wully.

Laurent de Brunhoff The Wully-Wully is a little imaginative creature. I like to invent little characters like that who doesn't exist in reality, and it come at the end of my pencil like that, I do many of them on a notebook and suddenly there is one who is really

Studs Terkel And there he is!

Laurent de Brunhoff Alive.

Studs Terkel He's got a crooked, he's got a little like you say he looks like a little bat, but he's not. He's not a bat. He looks like a little something.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, he has a little bit of dog

Studs Terkel A little dog, yeah. He has a crooked smile, like a clown's smile, but he's funny to have around, he's furry kind of.

Laurent de Brunhoff He likes to

Studs Terkel Hang

Laurent de Brunhoff Suspend

Studs Terkel Hang from his tail from the chandelier, eating and he's a lot of fun. And they're having a lot of fun with him, Arthur and Zephir, but along comes the rhinoceros. What's the rhinoceroses' head's name again?

Laurent de Brunhoff Rataxes.

Studs Terkel

Laurent de Brunhoff You know, throughout history there always has been some work of literature or of painting that attracts children. And to do that, children the world over, it has to have a note of wonder to it, but also an aspect of truth to it, too. One of the celebrated of all favorites of children reading in all languages I imagine is Babar the elephant, which was created by Jean de Brunhoff back in 1931, and it's the 50th anniversary, and after the death of Mr. Brunhoff, his son Laurent picked it up, and he continues with the story of Babar, "Babar the King". You might call him a kindly benign philosopher king -- oh, he doesn't philosophize too much, he just delights in life and so Babar's anniversary album has just been put out by Random House, and there are six quite remarkable adventures, three by the creator Jean de Brunhoff, that's "Babar the King", no, first it's "The Story of Babar", and then "The Travels of Babar", and "Babar the King", and my guest is Laurent de Brunhoff, who picks it up with "Babar's Surprise Party [sic - "Babar's Birthday Surprise"]", "Babar's Mystery", and "Babar and the Wully-Wully", and it's about a certain, a world of Babar and his friends. His family and his friends, and there's an introduction here, very moving, by Maurice Sendak, and so in a moment my guest Laurent de Brunhoff who will probably I hope read from Babar, too, as tell how it came to be in his approach. After this message. [pause in recording] [Music plays, then fades] "In the Great Forest, a little elephant was born. His name was Babar. His mother loved him very much. She rocked him to sleep with her trunk while singing softly to him. Babar grew bigger. Soon he played with the other little elephants. He was a very good little elephant. See him digging, digging in the sand with his shell. One day Babar was riding happily on his mother's back when a wicked hunter, hidden behind some bushes, shot at them. The hunter's shot killed Babar's mother. The monkey hid, the birds flew away, and Babar cried. Then the hunter ran up to catch poor Babar, too. Babar ran away because he was afraid of the hunter. After several days, very tired indeed, he came to a town." And that town is Paris and so the adventures, "The Story of Babar" begins. And that was Laurent de Brunhoff, enough who is the creator of the Babar today. I was thinking as you read that, and we should point out this is radio, and we don't see these delightful illustrations and drawings go along with it, immediately someone says, "My God, how shocking. A children's story suddenly his mother is killed." Yes, yes, I know that it's a question very often asked to me. And I'm not responsible, because it was my father's book and it was not even my father's idea, because it was my mother who told the first, I could say the first spark of the story of Babar, and she had this idea of the hunter killing the mother. So that's how it began, your father was something of an avant-garde painter in Paris in the '20s, and -- Not only avant-garde, no, he was not at all cubist or fauvist, or something like that, very kind and benign as you said for the elephant. A benign -- Benign painter. Very. Quite. But your mother was telling you and your little brother a story of a, of an elephant. Yes. She told us very often stories as any mother do. Does. And this story of a little elephant escaping the hunter and coming to town, we were very excited about it. So we told the story to my father, and he got the idea of making a book for us. Just for us. You know, that's how it began. And of course the series of books, and Babar came into being. Maurice Sendak, one of your colleagues, who is highly gifted -- Good friend of ours. And he wrote a beautiful introduction to this book. And he, he speaks of this and he says somehow he was so moved, and he misinterpreted it first when he read it as a small child, and he began to see Babar and the effect it has on children, the wonder and the mother. We come to this. In a way, your father and you were saying life is incredible, but there's also something called death that we have to recognize. And I think the, the old lady's human character who is a very important character in the book is somehow taking the place of the mother. And maybe in a way it is, it is a way of saying there is death but also that is something normal and good things happen, too. And so life and -- but throughout the idea is that life is delightful. This is what it's about. Because there's a gentleness to the book that I suppose makes the book today, the books I should say, the stories, more necessary than ever in these strange times. I think it's a sort of utopia of sort of a dream but with enough reality in it to, to not be not being too different, too puzzling for the child. And in the same time, it is completely dream. It's a dream, and yet it's Babar who comes to town, he's bereft of his mother, and we can't help but -- I have to point out one of these pictures that is so moving. It is -- these are works of art as done by Jean Laurent [sic - Jean de Brunhoff], the father of my guest and carried on by you. Laurent. That's -- there's the lady, his mother. And he's crying. We see it, but it's done -- like what, a not a realistic painting, and yet the emotion is there. That's right. Yes. And there's also -- who else points up before we ask you to read some more, you've got to read, you read some more. Someone points out that he never forgot this, Babar. Yes, but I think Sendak insisted a little too much on that. My feeling is that of course Babar is an orphan at the beginning of the saga, but he very soon became king and father. And this is what he is now. Well, let's continue with the adventures. Now comes to the town turns out to be Paris. Yes, yes. And Babar, he meets this old lady, the one human throughout the book, is this gentle old lady who becomes as you say his -- Sort of grandmother. His grandmother, and now she's taking care -- one little before I, don't mean to leave the mother, but I have a friend who when his little girl was 2 years old, said to him, I asked him about his father. He said, "My father died. He's dead," says my friend to his little girl. She said, "Did the hunter kill him?" Meaning of course obviously she knew Babar. Yes. So Babar is the world over, isn't it? Oh, yes, yes. Even in Japan or in all the European countries. So let's continue. Babar now is taken care of by the -- and he's got to be dressed up, right? He's, he's -- shall we read some more of Babar getting dressed? We're meeting him now. Now he's adopting, he's adapting himself to big city life. You pick it up anywhere you want. We see. We should point out when Mayor LaGuardia did years After he has, the old lady is --"She, she understood that he was longing for a fine suit, because Babar was looking at some people in the street well-dressed, and she liked to make people happy. So she gave him her purse. Babar said politely, 'Thank you, Madame.' Without wasting a time, Babar went into a big store. He took the elevator and had such fun riding up and down, he did not want to stop, but the elevator boy said, 'This is not a toy, Mr. Elephant.' Babar then bought himself a shirt with a collar and tie, a suit of a becoming shade of green." Of course we see all this happening in the -- "Then a handsome derby hat and also shoes with spats." And now he's dressed up. Yes. He's so, so, has so, what? "[With?] very satisfied with his purchases and feeling very elegant, indeed, Babar went to the photographer to have his picture taken. And afterward he went to the old lady and he lived with in his -- her house." And of course she's taking a bath, and there's a sponge there. I suppose one of the attractions to children is also Babar is doing the most natural thing in the world. He's just natural, he fits in -- Babar could be a boy or a girl human. Exactly. Exactly. And so when he's going up and down the elevator like little kids do, too, he "Wait a minute," says -- that he could be -- the child identifies with Babar. Yes, he's no more of an elephant I think. No more an elephant. But even though he's happy with the lady -- oh, in the meantime he's got a little cousin named Celeste and another cousin, who's, who's kind of a -- Mischief. Mischievous one, Arthur. Arthur. And then they come to town. And they meet Babar, and Babar was very excited because he had never -- he hadn't seen an elephant for a couple of years, and he decided to go back to the great forest, elephant Of course, now we can't get away from the fact that Babar is also homesick. That's right. He's homesick. But in the meantime, all the others elephants, there's a big pictures, a two-page picture here, the elephants realize Celeste and Arthur are missing, and they're calling out. Yes. "And the bird had seen them in town, so he come and tells the elephants Arthur and Celeste are in town." So he wants to go back, and the old lady knows it, he likes the old lady, but she knows she's gotta let them go back. So they're all dressed up, and so Babar went away, he and Celeste and Arthur back and so there's no room in the car for the elephants' mothers. Oh, the elephants' mothers came looking for them. Yes. Yes. So it is again like kids who got lost or who disappeared from the house of people. They're looking for them, and now they come back. Right? They are back in the country. The elephants. This is elephant country. Yes. And of course this is unusual, because they've been away, but they come back dressed up in those clothes and they got an automobile. Nice red automobile, yes, and all the elephant are very excited. And so back they come, and now, and now, something happens here. The king of the elephants-- The old King get poisoned by a bad mushroom. Bad mushroom. And he died, too. And so the question is, what are they going to do? But there's a wise old man there. Cornelius. Cornelius. Cornelius. He's, he's the sage, and he's the wise man. And Babar came just at that time with the clothes and everything, and so Cornelius says, now I'm going to be Fiorello LaGuardia. He was the mayor of New York and every Sunday morning he'd read with a great deal of excitement all the comic strips, so I'll be LaGuardia. "And then Cornelius, he had a very high voice. Cornelius, the oldest elephant said, 'Why not choose Babar for King? He has learned so much in the city.' The other elephants agreed. 'If I am King,' said Babar, 'Celeste will be your queen.' And then Babar said, 'You have good ideas, Cornelius. I will therefore make you a general.'" You know, well after all, Babar, he's got to like Cornelius, Cornelius said, "You be the king." Of course, and he said, "When I have the crown, I'll give you my hat." "I'll give you my hat!" And now we come to something. Here's Babar is very human being, isn't he? And he's also, Babar is not a wild spendthrift, is he? No, no, not at all. He's very civilized, I think. I think the fact he become a king is a remembrance -- I'm speaking of my father, of the fairy tales, classic fairy tales where they are where always king, queen, princess and so forth. That's I think where the idea of making Babar a king come. It is not because my father was a royalist. But it's part of, you're right, the old fairy tales and sagas, it's about royalty, the king anyway, but they're benign. And here's the wedding of course, now they're in robes, and the key, isn't it, the little crowns on their heads. The Queen's crown and the larger King's crown -- And Cornelius with his hat. And as Cornelius wearing Babar's old hat, and he's right, he's not going to throw the hat away, he's thrifty. Oh, no, no. And so now you have the wedding and hears of -- every now and then we have these two-page pictures, and here is kind of the wedding dance, and everybody's there. Oh, by the way, not just elephants, but visiting people visiting -- All the beasts of the jungle is hippopotamus, lions -- A rhinoceros. Rhinoceros. We'll come to that, there's later on there's a war with the rhinos, they're all there, and of course the monkeys. There's a monkey hangs around, that's Zephyr. Zephyr, yes. Zephir. Zephir, we say. And they're playing, they're the musicians. Yes, Arthur is musician, too. Oh, Arthur! Oh, his cousin Arthur, he plays the drum, doesn't he? And so that is the wedding and now, that's Queen Celeste and King Babar, and of Book One. And now we continue with your father's works, "The Travels of Babar". Yes, yes. After it's the wedding travel. But there's something here. How would you describe it? As Babar -- King Babar and Queen Celeste go off on a balloon. Yes. There's some of -- and there's the hat with Cornelius and there's Arthur with a sailor suit. We just see their backs. That's kind of wistful and fun. There's as a combination there, isn't there, of humor, gentle humor, and solemnity. You know. I see what you mean, it is sort of solemn, because -- A wistful here. Yes, it is a great responsibility for Cornelius to be, to replace the king while he's traveling. Oh, yeah, Cornelius is in charge there, why he's got the -- with it Babar's old hat, and now come these pictures, don't they? They're on the, the king and queen and the balloon, and they're seeing shores and beaches; of course, the drawing itself. How would you describe your father's and then your drawings? How would you describe the drawings? In what sense? I don't know. They're simple. They're very simple, there's a comic touch, the little eyes, at the same time there's always a little note of wistfulness here all the time. Yes, there is a sort of glance of humor, and the details catch the eye of the child. But it's also that which a child himself might -- or herself might experience, too. Yes, I think that the child has a special way of looking at the book which is not always exactly the way that the author thought it was, but it doesn't matter as long though there is a story. The child invent his own story. Could you expand on that a little, Mr. de Brunhoff? The [attitude?] the child. You have -- your father and then you did stories for young people and the drawings of Babar, Celeste, their adventures. But the child has his own imagination too as he sees this. Yes, and sometimes a details of an illustration can strike a child and he build up his own story from this little detail. And he -- there is his own ways of building the story. I imagine you yourself run into children in since you've been working on Babar, and they come up with stuff you haven't thought of, I suppose. Yes. They saw things you didn't see, even though you've created them. Where are we now? We're with the travels. And they're traveling around, they're on a boat. Yes. They had an accident with the balloon, and they travel on the back of the whale, and now they are -- Oh, wait, something happens here. A terrible accident happens, they lose their crowns. That's right. Yes, so -- Then Nobody know that they are king and queen of the elephant. I think maybe perhaps you should read this and describe some of the paintings, 'cause now they're just elephants. That's it. And they're in -- among humans. So, and they got no crowns! Yes. So the captain of the boat offered these elephant to Mr. Fernando, who has a circus. And what can they do about that, because they cannot prove they are king and queen. So Babar play a trumpet while Celeste dance in the circus. We should describe this, this is a large, again one of the large two-page pictures, and even though people are watching, they're getting a kick out of it it seems, some are, some are not. But there's -- she got a little tutu? What's this called? Yes, a tutu. That's a, Celeste dancing to it. And there's the animal trainer, and Babar, he's [gotta attend?] the circus and he's playing a trumpet. But you know they're not happy. Of course not. They would like to escape from the circus and come back to their elephant country. And of course they do. Yes. One night they escape, and it was just in the city where the little old lady is living, and Babar ring at the door and the old lady say, "Who is it?" And there is the answer: "It's us." And so she takes care of them and now they're back again where they're, with their regular suits on and back. But you notice one thing I notice here? Throughout, this is your father's work and yours, there's no one really very malicious or bad here. We'll come to the war with the rhinoceros in a minute. Even the animal, the circus people are not villainous. You know, they're -- Not really. They're do their job, and they are not villain. But in this utopia, in this world of Babar, there is no one really evil. Sometimes it's happened. You will see. Oh, Later, the rhinoceros, but even then there is a bad thing, a bad war coming, but afterward it's finished and the world is again -- Explain Nice. And they have a peace treaty. Yes. And there's a very funny one at the end with the Wully-Wully. We'll come to that. So now they're having a good time, and they're skiing. Oh, by the way, Babar and Celeste are kind of some would say they're middle-class people because they go skiing, they go boating, they go driving. They play tennis. Yes. As a middle-class people do. Someone made a crack at that. Someone's kidding a little. You say it's a bizarre king in a way. Oh, A He is a king. A middle-class king! That's what he is. So there they are on the beach, and what happens here? No, no, they are coming back to the elephant country, and there is the war with the rhinoceros. Oh, now, oh, now we come to the subject. Now there's a war. What was the war about? The rhinoceroses. The rhinoceroses were very, very angry because Arthur had put a, a -- how do you call that, the crackers? [French] go 'Boum!" like that. A A firecracker, that's it. Yes. On the tails, on the tail of the rhinoceros. Who? Arthur did it. Arthur Oh, now, Arthur the cousin, we should point out, Arthur is very mischievous. Yes. Sometimes. And so he put the firecracker, and that started it. Voila, and the rhinoceros Rataxes was so angry that he declared war. So the war, and now we see the rhinoceroses, and they've got their little hats on. Sort of a helmet. Helmets! They got the helmets on, and the shields around their necks like aprons, and so they're -- these are the enemy. But Babar -- who got the idea? Babar got a great -- was it Babar got the idea? Yes, Babar got the idea of painting the bottom of the elephant with big eyes and the tail in red. We see this. These are like bull's-eyes, only they're rhinoceroses' backsides, and these are eyes and looks, so when the elephants are backing, backing in, it looks like they're going ahead with huge eyes. That's it. Yes. And the rhinoceros, they are very surprised and scared, because they think it's monsters. Because they have wigs, too. Yes. So we see, we see the backsides of the elephants with little orange tails and all kinds of wigs, and the rhinoceros are running away like crazy. On the day of the battle at just the right moment, we see this by the way, the disguised elephants came out of hiding, Babar's bright idea has succeeded, the rhinoceroses thought they were monsters and terrified, they retreat in great disorder. King Babar was a mighty fine general, like Alexander the Great. And now. Now that the war is over and everybody is happy. And there's finally a peace, but we got a end. It doesn't [get into?] it. There is a peace treaty. I think at the very end. Not really, it is just the end. It's just the end of the war. Yes, and the important thing is that the little old lady decide to stay at the elephant country with Babar. And she's going to become a teacher. Yes, that's right. And so the last of the three stories, three of the stories of your father, in this -- we should point out that this is Random House's anniversary album, "Six Favorite Babar Stories", three by Jean de Brunhoff, and three by my guest his son, Laurent de Brunhoff. The third of Jean de Brunhoff's is "Babar the King". We continue. And now the old lady has become a teacher. No, not really, not yet. First, Babar is now building his town, because he wants the elephant to have a town. Oh, and the town of course named after the queen. Yes. Celesteville. The Queen is Celeste. So like he -- For Elizabeth or Anne's town. So it's Celeste town, and now is the building of the town. Yes. And there's a little phonograph there. The old lady introduced the phonograph. There's Cornelius with Babar's old hat. Yes. In a place called Grand Avenue and now they're building and even Zephyr, the little monkey and Arthur, they're the kids, they're helping the people dig and build it. And now we see Celeste -- There is Celeste at the end. It's come into being now, hasn't it? There's an amusement hall, there's a library, there's a workshop. And all the little houses are just the same. And you know the song "Ticky-tacky houses"? "Little boxes, little boxes", you know that song? It's a song about suburban homes in all countries and here are little suburban homes. The houses are all the same. And so we come to -- there's a song of the elephants. Yes. You know how that goes. Yes. Do you know how Oh, I could not sing it, [French song]. That's the way it goes. So it's sort of a gibberish, kind of [empty?] song of the elephants. And now again we come to a huge picture, Sunday in the park. And we should say the important thing is now not only Babar has built his town, but all the elephant get dressed as he and Celeste. They are dressed in wonderful costumes. Of course, and now the elephants are recognized by the readers, by the young readers as that they have clothes on, too, fashionably dressed, 'cause this is Sunday, they're in their Sunday clothes. Yes. This is a feast. The Sunday clothes. And now before we take a break, occupations are coming in. They're going to go to -- they're learning different occupations. Here that the old lady is a teacher for the young kid and every elephant has his own job. Here there is a peasant, here -- What's he called? He's called -- Poutifour. Yes. He's the peasant. He's the doctor. Capoulosse. Capoulosse is the doctor, he has, he has a case later on. Tap -- Tapitor. Tapitor is -- How do you -- Shoemaker. Shoemaker, yes. Fandago is what? He's a scientist. A scientist. Barbacol is a tailor, Doulamor is a musician. He's playing a cello. Yes. Justinien is a painter. And there's Coco the clown. Coco the clown, and Podular is going to have a big project later on. The sculptor. Aha. Yes. And so now they're in a theater. They're sitting -- well, perhaps we should -- before we come to the end of Babar and the adventures, we've got to end with [theater?], a big parade, a big march. This is the one that Maurice Sendak loved above all the pictures. He admires of course the works of his of his colleague Jean de Br-- Laurent de Brunhoff as well as his father Jean, and he speaks of this parade, and somehow he mentioned somewhere in his in his introduction, Berlioz's music would be good -- suppose you describe this parade. Then the text of my father says, "A big celebration was planned on the anniversary of the founding of Celesteville. The weather was perfect. Arthur marched at the head of the parade with Zephir and the band. Cornelius followed, his hat completely [transformed?]. Then came the soldiers and the trade companies. All those who were not marching watched this unforgettable spectacle." [Musical piece by Berlioz] And there's the Berlioz, the parade. And what makes this particular picture endearing, the most [of them?], we know it's comical, at the same time it's very serious and very solemn. It's sort of how to call that, "defile," a demonstration. A demonstration because you've got different people marching and demonstrating their work. Gardeners and farmers and they're carrying stacks of wheat and they're carrying flowers and they're the so -- they're the pastry cooks and they're carrying pieces of cake. Sailors are carrying fish, the mechanics and chauffeurs with their tools. One -- and of course one for all, and all for one. That's more or less the -- and there on a pedestal as though it were a pedestal, on a horse and his robe, is mounted King Babar. There's an accident, and doctor -- This story who had started very nicely had some dramatic, and the house of Cornelius is on fire. Catches on fire. Because Cornelius could be absent-minded, Cornelius -- he dropped a match into a wastebasket or something, and so that's how it started. But the doctor, Doctor Capoulosse. Capoulosse. Capoulosse. Capoulosse, he takes care of things so it works out okay. Babar is very worried and he had bad dreams during the night. But it worked out. So this is the first half of the book. The second half are your works. You pick up now. And suppose we take a pause now for a moment with my guest Laurent de Brunhoff and we've listened to the first three stories of Jean de Brunhoff back in the '30s. Your father died in 1937, was it? Yes. And then years passed. We'll pick this up after this intermission. [pause in recording] Resuming with Laurent de Brunhoff and Babar's anniversary album, and now became, now your, now your work begins. You're picking up. How many years elapsed? Oh, my first book was made in '46. Quite a while. And at that time I was twenty year, I was a painter as my father was, but not in the same style. I made rather abstract painting. But my Babar was my friends since I was a little boy, so I thought it was very, very sad that his stories were stopped by the death of my father. So I tried to make a book to continue the -- How many years elapsed between your father's last work and yours? He died in '37, and his two last books were published after his death. So there is a war afterward, and so almost, almost ten years after. You picked that up. Now, how did you, since you are not -- you painted differently than your father did. What did you do, because it's uncanny. There's still you. You are Laurent and not Jean. Still you -- and yet you were able to capture this. I'm sure some, many people thought your father was still painting. Oh yes, it happened very often. [Unintelligible] sometimes that somebody tell me, "Oh, how I was prepared to meet somebody very old with a white beard or something like that," they don't know that there is two authors. Well, it continues. But what would you say? Is there a nuance, a difference? What would you say it is? At first I wanted to be the most faithful possible to the style of my father, otherwise I think it wouldn't mean anything to continue the stories. But of course I'm not exactly the same man. I have my own feelings, and a little bit different as my father, who was maybe a little more simple -- benign you said, and naive in a positive way, you know. I am maybe less tranquille -- Less tranquil. Tranquil as he was. And yet it continues, see, you are obviously different, but in reading this, in seeing this, we can't tell yet I suppose there is something, we look at a change, but it's also something else. Maybe it's also Babar himself. Could it be the times, too? Of course. Of course. The '30s were very different from the time being now. Now. And even if I am not conscious of it all the time, there is a reflection of my time in the stories I am create. Before you do some readings, as you did of your father's, of yours now, "Babar's Surprise Party [sic - "Babar's Birthday Surprise"]", a question. I don't know if this is answerable or not. Do you find little children today reading Babar in contrast to your reading of Babar when you were little, when your mother told you, your father did it, or little kids you knew. Is -- they have different reactions, or are they the same? Or is something added or lost? I couldn't say that. I, I believe that of course little kids today are influenced by the world of today, but basically they are the same. Same. Yes. And I mean the feeling, the tenderness to the mother or to the pals, or -- it is the same. And the imagination. And the imagination, yes. And the wonder. See, it's later on I suppose, then the institutions get him. Yes. Then they get That's right. Then -- so Babar's -- now we come to Laurent de Brunhoff. Babar -- a surprise. There's a birthday, and Podular the sculptor. This is not my first book. There were many between the three we have read before, and those -- They've chosen just three of your stories. So this is "Babar's Birthday Surprise", and one day Podular the sculptor was putting the finishing touches on a pretty little statue of his friend King Babar. Zephir the monkey watched. Queen Celeste entered Podular's studio with the old lady and cousin Arthur. They all admired Podular's work. Now, this is going to be on a mountain, isn't it? It's gonna be -- This This was the studio. But Celeste has the idea -- Oh, I'm sorry. For the anniversary of the birthday of Babar to ask the sculptor to make an enormous statue in the mountains as this place you have. Like Gutzon Borglum's up here in the Black Mountains you mean. Yes. The presidential heads. Voila. Yes. And there they go, and Podular start sculpting the -- And we're seeing this. The rocks. Podular the -- and we see just as Gutzon Borglum I imagine was doing here, you know, the faces of I guess was Teddy Roosevelt and Washington and Lincoln, and he's -- so here's Babar's face and body being sculpted, and of course the kids are around watching, aren't they? Arthur and Zephir. And the trouble is that they want -- they don't want Babar coming Oh, is surprise. Because it is a secret. And each time they hear a noise, they are very scared. But here it is not Babar coming, it is little kids. On bicycles -- oh, that by the way Babar and Queen Celeste have three little children. Ah, yes, yes, yes. That was my father's idea. In other book of his. Alexander Alexander, Pom, and Flora the little girl. So they're coming along on the bike here. My father created this one after the birth of his third son. Oh, really? Yes. So in conjunction with the birth of your little brother. My second little brother. Your second little brother. He created, he added three little kids of King and Queen. That's it, yes. That was it. So now in secret everybody knows the big surprise, they're working on, Podular and all his friends are working on this remarkable sculpture. And here Babar was coming and they are very afraid because they think that he will see the statue in the mountains, but no. You know what's kind of good? The sculptor. He looks like one of these old-time sculptors in work uniform, like a cap on, or he might have been Picasso with a cap on, I notice some sculptor, and it's so humorous -- Like in Montparnasse. Huh? Like in Montparnasse. In Paris. Like some of the guys in the art section, going along dressed, working uniforms. And of course kids recognize this, don't they? They see in the picture somewhere a certain -- or someone told them. That yes, maybe they don't -- it is not exactly the same as an American sculptor, but some kind of -- And now, and now people are coming to the gathering, aren't they? To the mountain to surprise Babar. After Arthur has a little accident here, because the scaffolding Oh, a scaffolding. He always gets in trouble, doesn't he? Arthur. Yes. Yes. Arthur's always getting in trouble. And so you see when Babar is coming, all the bird are covering the mountain,, the statue, and he cannot see it. Oh, the birds are cooperating. Yes, yes. In keeping the secret. That's what it is, they're birds covering. And now we come to one more of the big pictures, and now the birds fly away, and the band is playing, and people in their [own?] Sunday clothes, all we see is the back, there's always a funny wistful thing, the back of the King and Queen seated, and the old lady is there, and Arthur with his bandaged nose is there, and everybody's really here, and there's old Cornelius, and now we see this remarkable statue, no piece of sculpture. Why don't you read, 'cause this is a great "Cornelius assembled the musicians of the Royal Guards. The trumpets sounded the fanfare. At a signal, all the birds covering the mountain flew up at the same time. The air was filled with the loud fluttering of wings. Babar was stupefied. 'Why, it's me! ... Extraordinary!,' he said, hugging" -- how would you pronounce that? Hugging. "Hugging Celeste. 'What a splendid statue! Podular, my friend, I congratulate you. Dear Celeste, I'm very moved. What an enormous surprise.'" Yeah. Of course, what's also delightful is your reading of it, too. After lunch, the cooks in the palace -- this is near the end of the story -- brought a wonderful cake. "Happy Birthday!" shouted the children, then Cornelius said, "Babar, it is up to you to cut the cake." Now we come -- "Oh, yes, quickly," added Arthur, sounding funny because the bandage is on his trunk. Everybody cried "Happy Birthday" except for the weary Podular who was fast asleep. He had a big job, and now we come near the end of our hour, too, with -- there are two more stories. No, the end, "Babar's Mystery". "Babar's Mystery" and "Babar and the Wully-Wully". And "Babar [and] the Wully-Wully". Perhaps a word about the mystery, because now we come to, some things happen. They were shopping somewhere, weren't they? Yes, they were, were shopping in a place -- Was this in Celesteville? No, no, no, this is Celesteville beach. Oh, at the beach! [Mutters And so they were shopping and there were some -- something was stolen. Yes, something was We know who did it, do we? It was -- What was stolen? The piano, the piano of the hotel -- The piano of the hotel And The The car, Babar's car was stolen. But there's a cue! Clue. And later on it was the statue who was stolen. There was a statue here. And Babar was supposed to -- Unveil Unveil it for the -- And And that was stolen -- And [shine?] but a clue was left, a glove. A glove, yes. One of the burglars, one of the thieves, lost a glove, and now we have Babar as a detective. It's Arthur. Oh, Arthur, of course! Arthur and Zephir are gonna start tracking it down. And finally Arthur come to the lighthouse and he -- They come to the old Where the old lady was working -- She was typing away. She Some log cabins there. And they hear some noise in the little house. That looks like a little outhouse is near the beach there, and they hear a noise After come close and look through the window and he saw four crocodiles, and they are the thieves. And one's got a gangster cap on. Yes, and we can see the red car of Babar at the piano there and the golden statue -- And so we know these are the -- and they're taking the stuff out. And these -- Guys -- a plan, how do you say that, Babar and the old lady? Conceive a plan. Conceive a plan, and -- She's in the lighthouse. Living out there, and they, so -- She make a noise. And they are, the thieves, the crocodiles think they are discovered. So they get -- enter the fire The lighthouse. The lighthouse. They want to capture the old lady. And at that time Babar shut the door, and they are prisoner, because the old lady escaped by a -- By a pulley. Sort of -- And she's out. Yes. And she's -- escapes. And so Babar, who was informed by Arthur came, he shuts the door, and he's got them imprisoned. They imprison the thieves, and the headline of course the next day one of the newspaper account, "Robbers Caught," and read the end of that. "Discovered by Arthur and the old lady, the robbers, a gang of four crocodiles, have been arrested thanks to King's Babar bold strategy. The courage of our dear old lady has won everyone's admiration. The leader of the gang, a rhinoceros, intended to sell the statue and leave on a trip in Babar's car. [The Coast Guard caught him?], as for the theft of the piano, it seemed to have been the idea of the crocodiles, who called themselves musicians." The last sentence is very funny, because see, you got this, they're all arrested but the crocodiles stole the piano because here is Babar and the reader saying, you know, these guys are musicians? You know, they really thought they're musicians, see, the last a wistful touch. The last story, or your last story here, in -- published here, is "Babar and the Wully-Wully". Now, a word about the Wully-Wully. The Wully-Wully is a little imaginative creature. I like to invent little characters like that who doesn't exist in reality, and it come at the end of my pencil like that, I do many of them on a notebook and suddenly there is one who is really -- And there he is! Alive. He's got a crooked, he's got a little like you say he looks like a little bat, but he's not. He's not a bat. He looks like a little something. Yes, he has a little bit of dog and A little dog, yeah. He has a crooked smile, like a clown's smile, but he's funny to have around, he's furry kind of. He likes to -- Hang Suspend Hang from his tail from the chandelier, eating and he's a lot of fun. And they're having a lot of fun with him, Arthur and Zephir, but along comes the rhinoceros. What's the rhinoceroses' head's name again? Rataxes. Rataxes, The

Studs Terkel Or he, not kidnaps, he Wully-Wully-naps. He Wully-Wully-naps the Wully-Wully. And of course they're scared and they're furious. Arthur and the others are furious, and they want to get the Wully-Wully, and they're spying on Rataxes.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel Now, Rataxes isn't cruel.

Laurent de Brunhoff No, he just is a ridiculous guy. He does -- "Oh, they have discovered the little Wully-Wully, I want it for myself."

Studs Terkel He's just selfish, so he's got the Wully-Wully, and now they come to rhinoceroses' town. What's the name of that town?

Laurent de Brunhoff I didn't give a name for this.

Studs Terkel They come to rhinoceros town.

Laurent de Brunhoff And Arthur was disguised and with binoculars. No!

Studs Terkel Arthur.

Laurent de Brunhoff Arthur.

Studs Terkel Came in disguise.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes.

Studs Terkel And they discover his disguise.

Laurent de Brunhoff He was selling hats,

Studs Terkel Oh, he became disguised as a hat salesman. But Rataxes and the others discovered his

Laurent de Brunhoff So he is a prisoner now,

Studs Terkel He's a prisoner in the prison, and here are the guards, the rhinoceroses' guards, and so Zephir rescues him. They get away and set -- now we come to a very -- oh,

Laurent de Brunhoff Zephir enter the palace of Rataxes.

Studs Terkel That's some

Laurent de Brunhoff To get the Wully-Wully. While the rhinos, the guard are sleeping.

Studs Terkel The guards are sleeping, and everywhere you have images of Rataxes, Rataxes, taxes all the way down, and there is, and they rescue the Wully-Wully and everybody is celebrating back home.

Laurent de Brunhoff Everybody

Studs Terkel But now the rhinoceroses get furious.

Laurent de Brunhoff They come again.

Studs Terkel They invade Celesteville, and this looks very serious.

Laurent de Brunhoff Yes, it is, there is a charge of the rhinoceros and they pick up the Wully-Wully

Studs Terkel -- They run away, and now we have it again, don't we?

Laurent de Brunhoff And the elephant are very, very concerned because they want to make again the war with the rhinoceros, and little Flora said to herself, "But if there is a war, they could kill the little Wully-Wully, I don't want that. So I will go and talk to Rataxes," and this very courageous little girl go, and Rataxes is finally convinced to let the little Wully-Wully go his way.

Studs Terkel Well, something else is here. Flora talks to Rataxes, and she so reasonable to Rataxes, the enemy, he's no longer an enemy.

Laurent de Brunhoff He doesn't know what to answer her.

Studs Terkel "If I let him go," he's "Let him go, why keep him [unintelligible] run away?" "Perhaps," says Flora, "But he'll come back when he wants to." Still troubled, Rataxes agreed to open the cage." Why not read the last page? That's Rataxes sitting along the bank with Babar, with Celeste, and he's sitting there

Laurent de Brunhoff "And he's playing with the Wully-Wully and Flora. Now the Wully-Wully could go where he wishes. Each day he stopped to see Flora and the elephants, but he also visited the city of the rhinos. When Wully-Wully was at Celesteville, Rataxes was likely to be there too, helping Flora make a rope swing for the little pet. Babar watched them and thought, "It's really amazing. Our little Flora has completely tamed that great rough Rataxes."

Studs Terkel And so there was no war.

Laurent de Brunhoff No.

Studs Terkel And Rataxes appears to be reasonable now. Maybe we need Flora right now in the world.

Laurent de Brunhoff Maybe yes.

Studs Terkel Maybe that's why Babar is so good. Maybe because it is the gentleness of the elephant and his world. And of course we thank you very much, too, Laurent de Brunhoff, for carrying on this highly civilized and lovely and wondrous tradition, and it's "Babar, Babar the Six Stories", three by Jean de Brunhoff and three by Laurent de Brunhoff, it's the anniversary album, 50th anniversary, introduction by Maurice Sendak, Random House the publishers and, merci beaucoup.

Laurent de Brunhoff Goodbye.

Unidentified Musicians [Music -- by