Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Barbapapa: French, whimsical, groovy, psychedelic! Who IS Barbapapa? Well, Barbe A Papa, (I don't know how to do accents on the computer,) means cotton candy in French, literally, Papa's beard! Barbapapa is a stretchy pink fellow with a large family: Barbamama, Barbidou, Barbibul, Barbouille, Barbalala, Barbidur, Barbabelle, and Barbotine. The family can stretch themselves into any shape they want. This is very helpful when they are babysitting their little friend, Alice. Not only does Barbidur feed Alice her meal with a little spoon, but he stretches himself into a high-chair to hold her.

Barbalala can make herself into a very warm and comfortable stroller for Alice's walk.

The parents can make themselves into tents for the children when they camp in the countryside. This seems like an excellent image for being a to stretch in any direction to love, care, and protect your children. And the family builds their new home using Barbapapa as a mold. They cover him with plastic, and when it hardens.....

Barbapapa squeezes out through the doorway. Voila! They create an entire home of interconnecting pods like this, with a bedroom suitable for each child's talents and interests.

In my favorite book, Barbapapa: La Cuisine, the whole family makes Barbapapa something special to eat for his birthday. Barbamama is making cakes, and they look so delicious that Barbidou disguises himself as a cake. Then he is able to "eat tranquilly" without Barbamama noticing.

Uh-oh! Barbamama thought he WAS a cake and almost put Barbidou in the oven!

The children get a scolding. "Si les enfants ne sont pas sages, il doivent sortir de la cuisine!" I used to say that sometimes when I was very busy in the kitchen and my youngest was underfoot and could understand French. It means, "If the children don't behave, they must leave the kitchen!"

Most of the time I love being in the kitchen with the children. Nicholas is a real chef in New York City now. My daughter studied French pastry. And my youngest likes to make cookies and cake, lick the beater, and eat.

The Barbapapa books I have told you about, written in the 1970's by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor, are "Barbapapa: Babysitter," "La Maison de Barbapapa," and "Barbapapa: La Cuisine." They are published by Dragon D'Or.


Patzi said...

We love the Barbapapas
I grew up with them and now my children watch them on DVD. We don't have the books, though

Linda said...

Dear Beth,
Oh wow, I remember Barbapapa from when I was little:) I can still hear the songs we used to listen to on our record player...
Thank you so much for bringing this memory back to life for me:)
Take care

Moogie said...

Thanks for this! We have just learnt that we will be moving to France next year (hopefully, if everything goes well) and have to learn French quickly!!! These look fantastic.

Beth said...

Hi, Moogie! Where are you moving to in France? Linda, I didn't know there were Barbapapa songs! And there are also DVDs, Patzi? Wow! Beth

Moogie said...

Hi Beth! We are hoping to move to La Rochelle as my husband would still be able to commute back to England to work.
We are really up for the adventure as we have nothing to tie us down here in England; we rent our house, our kids are homeschooled and my hubby can schedule his meetings to only part of the month and the rest of the time he can spend working from home. I am a little worried about the isolation if we don't know the language, but you what, we can always come back... :o)

Unschoolers Rock the Campground said...

Barbapapas was a favorite cartoon when I was a kid. Just seeing the name plays the song in my head!

I have looked for it for my kids, but haven't had any luck finding it.

Thanks for the memories :)

gardenmama said...

how fun beth!
they look great : )

TCallihan said...

My 19yo daughter loved the one Barbapapas book we had when she was little. It was in english and she carried it with her everywhere. Reciting little lines at random people. I thought it was a little odd story and never realized that there was more books and cartoons from it.. She will be surprised too.

Imene said...

You just drew me back 30 years behind...I love Barbeapapa!! I used to have a whole collection of them and even the movie.
I have to get some for my kiddos!! I wonder if they're still in print!

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

We are huge barbapapa fans too - earlier this year we made our own barbapapa house and figurines:

Sylvie Créative - Créations Ma Déco Maison said...

Dear Beth,
Thanks a lot to remind us the great Barbapapa. They were so creative.
I will look for them again to use them with my french learner students and for the children of the family.
And why not to try to create a fabric Barbapapa! If I can, I let you know.
Other nice cartoons were too: Bannertail: The Story of Gray Squirrel; Bambi, A Life in the Woods and the Swiss Family Robinson.
Please tell Moogie that la Rochelle it's a very nice city. I recommend her this guide: