For my 100th (!) post on Playing by the book I’ve chosen one of my all time favourite books from my own childhood, a book which – fortunately – has also become one my own children adore – Barbapapa’s New House by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor.
Barbapapas are animals which can change their shape in to anything they wish. There are many Barabapapa books but this story (which like all the books in the series, can be read on its own without reference to any other Barbapapa story) recounts how the Barbapapa family create a new home for themselves.
With their large family, they have outgrown their original home and so the Barbapapas move to beautiful, old house. Although in need of some TLC, it is idyllic – turrets and winding staircases with room for all. But one day the wrecking machines come to town – it has been decreed that all old houses are to be knocked down.
The Barbapapa family are relocated to a flat in a high rise tower but they become very unhappy in this uninspiring environment and they decide to move out to build their own home.
They find a perfect location, and all working together create their ideal home. Once again their home is threatened by the diggers and bulldozers but this time the Barbapapas put up a (non-violent) fight, and secure the future of their home. Everyone is delighted and they celebrate with a happy party.
This story, like many Barbapapa stories, has an undercurrent of environmental awareness – it’s understated, but definitely there, with the idea that “modern” doesn’t necessarily equal “better than before”. Although I don’t think I was particularly aware of it as a child, as a parent I certainly do appreciate this subtle backbone to the story.
What I did notice when I was little, and which has stayed with me ever since was the delightful, humorous illustrations. The Barbapapas are just such magical characters – brightly coloured, interested in everything around them. They look not unlike balls of plasticine in their natural state, but can change in to anything – a boat, a ladder, a snail. This ability completely enchanted me as a child (as did Morph for those of you who saw British TV in the 70s!) and my kids now love the friendly, creative characters too.
Inspired by this wonderful little book I spent quite a few evenings creating a Barbapapa house and a family of Barbapapas for M and J to play with. I used balloons and papier mache to create the basic pods.
Once several layers of papier mache were dry, I popped the balloons and used yet more papier mache to stick them together on to cardboard box with two of its sides removed.
The kids then helped me paint and decorate it!
We used fimo (you could use Sculpey) to make our Babarpapa family (but we ran out of black, so there is no Barbabeau (or Barbabob as he is known in Dutch versions of Barbapapa)).
Lots of playing ensued! We made beds and chests of drawers out of matchboxes, and also plenty of little books for Barbalib!
Barbapapa’s new house has now supplanted not only the doll’s house but even the playmobil hospital as no. 1 toy of choice! And it’s not just M and J that are enjoying playing with it
Barbapapa’s New House: *** (3 stars)
Here’s a selection of Barbapapa related links that we’ve enjoyed:
And because no post at Playing by the book is complete without a little bit of music, here’s the (French) Barbapapa theme tune for you to enjoy!
To celebrate reaching my 100th post I’ll be announcing details of a great giveaway tomorrow – please do check back in then and try your luck!