Adam Gopnik teach us how to reread Jean de Brunhoff's "The Story of Babar", a great children book whic is published in 1931. At least I found two of them here:
Fables for children work not by pointing to a moral but by complicating the moral of a point. The child does not dutifully take in the lesson that salvation lies in civilization, but, in good Freudian fashion, takes in the lesson that the pleasures of civilization come with discontent at its constraints: you ride the elevator, dress up in the green suit, and go to live in Celesteville, but an animal you remain—the dangerous humans and rhinoceroses are there to remind you of that—and you delight in being so. There is allure in escaping from the constraints that button you up and hold you; there is also allure in the constraints and the buttons. We would all love to be free, untrammelled elephants, but we long, too, for a green suit.
In London, in children’s books, life is too orderly and one longs for the vitality of the wild; in Paris, order is an achievement, hard won against the natural chaos and cruelty of adult life; in New York, we begin most stories in an indifferent city and the child has to create a kind of order within it. Each of these schemes reflects a history: the English vision being a natural consequence of a peaceful nation with a reformist history and in search of adventure; the French of a troubled nation with a violent history in search of peace; and the American of an individualistic and sporadically violent country with a strong ethos of family isolation and improvised rules.