Thursday, March 12, 2009

Babar's Museum of Art (Closed Mondays) by Laurent de Brunhoff

In Celesteville, the capital of Babar's kingdom, life is as it should be. Fun is the king's chief pursuit, and everyone is treated kindly. Sometimes the children disobey, which never fails to backfire on them, but they are never shamed for their transgressions. They learn lessons and are warmly guided toward better behavior by caring adults. It is a place that I enjoy revisiting in Babar's many books, including Babar's Museum of Art (Closed Mondays) by Laurent de Brunhoff.

In this 2003 publication, Celeste notices that the train station is no longer being used for trains and proposes it be transformed into an art museum. Everyone else agrees, of course, and they get right to work with refurbishing the grand building. Babar and Celeste's large collection of art is given to the museum and the public is invited for an opening celebration. As the elephant family and friends explore the galleries, readers get to see great elephant art.

Babar's Museum of Art (Closed Mondays) has little plot, but the gentle parodies of great art are lots of fun. I particularly like de Brunhoff's take on Jan van Eyck's Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife Giovanna Cenami and John Singer Sargent's Madame Pierre Gautreau. Munch's Scream and Manet's Luncheon on the Grass are also quite funny. The book works for any age. Children will like funny pictures with elephants, and adults will think the pictures funny because of the elephants. Adults may like them more.

Brunhoff, Laurent de. Babar's Museum of Art (Closed Mondays). Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2003. ISBN 0810945975

No comments: