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Monday, March 2, 2009

Babar and the Cannibals

"The Travels of Babar" is a rousing adventure, with hot-air balloons, elephants on whales, tremendous steamships, firecrackers, circus escapes, elephants on skis, the Alps, and rhinos attacking.

As if the madcap adventures were not enough, the pictures are comic-book perfection, the sentences are long strung with beautiful clauses, and the true dangers are treated as such.

Sympathies abound. Barbar's wife, Celeste is genuinely frightened by her husband's rage when they are caged on a steamship and fed hay like donkeys.

But the situational horrors are not diminished by these human-scale concerns. War is presented with dread: When Babar returns to his war-savaged homelands and discovers the beautiful forests trampled, the narrator reminds us that "war is not a joke, and many elephants were injured."

There are, however, several pages that struck us as better suited for the pages of the Laws of Silence than the pages of a children's book. When Babar and Celeste's honeymoon hot-air balloon crash lands on an island, they make themselves as comfortable as possible. Until the caricatured cannibals attack, full of flesh lust.

Off course, this is nothing children and LoS fans haven't seen before.

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