Laurent de Brunhoff was in Oxford at Square Books, Jr., on Monday, and my girls and I went to have our beloved Babar books signed.
Laurent is actually the son of the creator of the original Babar books, Jean de Brunhoff ,who died in 1937 at the age of 37. I was delighted to find out that the original Babar story was based on a story told by Jean's wife to her sons when they were sick. When Laurent and his brother told their father their mother's wonderful story about an elephant, Jean (who was an artist) thought the story would make a delightful children's book. Jean's brother happened to be in the publishing business and thus Babar was born.
Laurent took over the creation of the Babar stories and illustrations inspired by his father after his father died. He has been the creator of Babar since the 1940s, and many people do not realize that the stories have father/son creators--their styles and delicious stories are so similar.
Laurent is now in his eighties, and I am truly honored to have met a man who has created and sustained such an endearing character in children's literature.
Long live King Babar! SF