Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Barbapapa's Ark by Annette Tyson and Talus Taylor (Orchard Books)

Barbapapa's Ark

Written by Annette Tyson

Illustrated by Talus Taylor

Published by Orchard Books

If someone had told me a year ago that Charlotte would become a huge Barbapapa fan, I'd have probably laughed in their faces. How could a groovy 70s character have any appeal - or for that matter any relevance to the kids of today, obsessed with gadgets and TV.

The simple answer is that characters like Barbapapa, and books like "Barbapapa's Ark" are indeed very much of the time - but the issues they raise, and the core family values we admire and love when reading about Barbapapa, Barbamama and their wonderful talented children are still as big a lure as they always were.

On the 'issues' side, "Barbapapa's Ark" is a fantastic story to underline something that I remember being a huge global problem as a child and (unfortunately) is still ever-present in the modern world.

Barbapapa's lovely home is set in idyllic surroundings - but with the encroachment of cities and factories, Barbapapa's green corner of the world is threatened. The local flora and fauna succumb to pollution and fumes, and before long Barbapapa realises it's time to move on (again! Poor Barbapapa seems to lead a bit of a nomadic existence in these stories!)

Taking the animals with them, the Barba-family set up a fantastic animal refuge. But soon even this is under threat as nefarious hunters want to bag themselves an animal trophy, perhaps even the gorgeous pelt of Barbabeau!

There's really nothing for it - and Barbapapa resorts to drastic measures to escape the mean inhabitants of planet earth, building a gigantic Rocket-Ark and taking all the beleaguered animals with him.

Will the people of earth realise, all too late, that the world is a better place with all the wildlife (and the Barba-family) in it?

I remember the original Barbapapa books, and as I've said in previous reviews of Orchard's timely reprints, these are fantastic stories that are still as groovy and relevant today as they were back when the world was obsessed with flares and Raleigh Choppers (OK I'm still obsessed with Raleigh Choppers now but flares I can live without).

It's so fantastic to see Charlotte's joyful whoops of delight every time she sees a new Barbapapa book arriving! We can't wait for more!

Charlotte's best bit: Barbapapa's fantastic Ark-Rocket filled with all the animals of the earth

Daddy's Favourite bit: You seriously cannot keep a great character down, and these books are fabulous even for today's busy little bees

(Kindly sent to us for review by Orchard Books)