March 14, 2011

Babar's Dream :: the concocted universe

I've been reading Edward R. Tufte's Visual Explanations this evening in search of useful tidbits on William Playfair (the inventor of the pie, bar and line graphs). The topic is as interesting as I could expect a history paper topic to be. Just as my head began to nod I flipped the page to the colorful image you see above: Babar's Dream by Jean de Brunhoff (1933). Tufte uses the watercolor to illustrate, "concocted universes, showing all at once what never has been impossibly wonderful scene". This image of Babar launches me back to my childhood. I grew up with King Babar and distinctly remember accidentally finding a wind-up doll of the peaceful elephant hidden in a cupboard. It was intended to be a Christmas gift for me and I felt like such a bad girl for discovering him early. The books, stuffed elephants and even the Babar perfume...I was completely in love. (Did I mention that as a child I hoped to become an elephant doctor?) Did you grow up with Babar?

I would like to recommend Tufte's work on the basis of his sound, useful instruction to designers on the topic of information graphics, but I especially enjoyed running across the, "graceful winged elephants who chase Misfortune away...and bring back Happiness". I know they brought me a little Happiness tonight!

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