Babar, Mortality and Me
September 27, 2011 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Which of the Babar books deal with death? This question stems from a childhood anecdote that goes a little something like this . . .

I am two or three years old. I am sitting on a couch in our living room. My father is with me. I am reading one of the Babar books.

I get bored, as toddlers occasionally do. I put the book down and start jumping up and down on that ugly, scratchy, seventies-plaid couch. The book I've been reading has introduced a topic that I don't understand very well. So I turn to my father and ask:

-- Daddy, am I going to die some day?

My father is thrown for a loop. But only for a second. He recovers and says:

-- Yes, but it won't happen until you're a hundred years old.

A hundred years old. Sounds good. A hundred to a toddler is like a trillion to a grownup. An abstraction, utterly removed from everyday life. Thus mollified, I resume jumping up and down on the couch and never mention the topic again.

My question to all of you is: which of the Babar books that would have been available to me as a two year old would have dealt with the topic of death? They must have been available in the United States of America, published in the English language and on bookshelves in the early 1970s, 1974 at the very latest.

Many thanks in advance.
posted by jason's_planet to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Best answer: Probably the original Story of Babar, which deals with the death of his mother, shot by a hunter. I vaguely recall an illustration of Babar's mother's corpse, with Babar next to it, possibly with a hunter in the scene as well.
posted by supercres at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (On further inspection: The mental image I'm thinking of, for what it's worth, is from pages 6-7, visible in Amazon's "Look Inside" function.)
posted by supercres at 12:51 PM on September 27, 2011

Best answer: Seconding supercres: it's the original book. As well as the death of Babar's mother, the King of the elephants eats a bad mushroom and dies. (Pages 34 - 35.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:19 PM on September 27, 2011

Our children are obsessed with that poisonous mushroom in the Story of Babar. They believe any wild mushroom will make them turn green and die, which has been really helpful.
posted by michaelh at 1:50 PM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

It was probably the King's death by mushroom that stuck with you. My 4ish year old son began screaming and burst into tears one day when we were hiking because my two year old started to approach a mushroom.
posted by saffry at 2:24 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also came here to mention death-by-mushroom. As a child, my SO refused to eat mushrooms for the longest time because of this.
posted by OLechat at 5:22 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK. Got the answer I was looking for.

Thanks, guys!
posted by jason's_planet at 5:17 PM on September 28, 2011

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