Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Barbapapa's Ark by Annette Tilson & Talus Taylor (1974)

I knew there was a book called Barbapapa's Ark.  My childhood copy was a yellow paperback.  I knew I liked the book immensely as a child; I probably read it to death as it disappeared years ago.  I tried to find the book again a few years back, but no luck - I could not get a copy from any local library or inter-library loan; nor could I find a copy to purchase.  

Notice that Cindy is NOT wearing a top.
On a whim a few weeks ago, I tried to find it again, and lo and behold - there it was!  Apparently, they've republished the Barbapapa series, and I was able to find a hardcover version via the Fargo Public Library.  

Since I didn't actually purchase this book (£9.99 according to the back of the book), I'm not too upset that it's not as extraordinary as I remember it being.    The cartoonish illustrations are very simplistic, and, well, very 1970s cheap.  It's a little bit like the Smurfs; each character has a personality.  Barbapapa's can change shape, which may be one of the things that fascinated me as a kid; it was still interesting now, to be honest.   Interesting, but undeveloped.  There are more books set in the Barbapapa universe, as well as animated shorts (I checked them out on YouTube and they are stupid to say the least); I did not know as a child that Barbapapa existed outside this one book.  I'm not going to explore more of them as an adult.
This wouldn't have been significant when I was 9 years old, but that orange one is called Barbalib - get it - she's a LIBRARIAN. 

Re-reading this, I have vivid memories of liking this particular illustrations.  There is something about that drag queen of a woman in those furs - including that hat - and the long cigarette holder (smoking!  In a children's picture book).  Delicious!

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A long-lost childhood favorite, rediscovered, and apparently back in print. But, as they say, you can't go home again. Not always. The magic of this book felt by an avid little nine year old in 1979 wasn't felt by his older, wiser self; reading this as a grown up, it seemed simplistic, and sort of cheap. The Barbapapas ability to change shape is interesting; the cartoonish illustrations aren't anything to write home about, but they are sometimes fun. But the story... not so good.

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