The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant

Book review by
Kevin McCaffrey, Common Sense Media
The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant Book Poster Image
An old-fashioned but well-told story.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Babar's cousins, Arthur and Celeste, run away.

Violence & Scariness

Babar's mother is killed and he runs from the hunter. The hunter chases Babar to try to kill him. Several moments of strong feeling, as when Babar cries as he remembers his dead mother.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this old-fashioned but well-told story, with the author-illustrator's classic artwork, appeals to wide-eyed young children.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7-year-old Written byeswanson April 9, 2008

Too dated

Along with the depiction of hunting mentioned in the main review, I take issue with this book's portrayal of women. There's so many really good books... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old March 8, 2011
love it

What's the story?

Babar runs from a hunter who killed his mother, finally coming to a town where he makes friends with a rich benefactor. But Babar is the kind of elephant who doesn't just rest on charity; he works hard to learn people's ways and be accepted into society. Still, he must eventually return to his own kind, the elephants, who give him the highest tribute when they see the results of his hard effort.


Is it any good?

This book's simple charm lies in its innocence, its matter-of-fact presentation of life, its value system, and its celebration of flexibility, wonder, acceptance, hard work, and making others happy. First published in 1933, this book has become a classic beloved by generations of parents and children. Its long staying power attests to its value, and yet, in retrospect, one suspects it would not be published if it were offered to editors today. 

The detailed primary-color chromatic art and line drawings are reminiscent of Margaret Wise Brown's classic Goodnight Moon. So many children, their children, and their children's children who have enjoyed this book and all the others by Jean de Brunhoff for so long know that not everything in life has to make sense, but that trying to behave sensibly has its rewards.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the values promoted in the book, such as hard work and decent behavior, and the rewards they bring. What do the characters learn?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate