Friday, March 07, 2008

What is Pink and Squishy and Family-Friendly? BARBAPAPA!

Sure you have your Cabbage Patch Kids, The Golden Books, your Strawberry Shortcake, throw in some Winnie the Pooh or Where the Wild Things Are and you have yourself many childhood favorites. All things many of us look back on with happy nostalgia. However, it was while I was visiting Paris during my pregnancy that I discovered a toy in a French department store that brought back much of my childhood to me. It was Barbapapa! I knew instantly I had to have him. Excited and in utter disbelief (this toy is still popular?!) I had him rung up at the register and brought him home to await the arrival of my daughter, T.D.

As a kid Saturday morning cartoons dawned early in my house. Barbapapa (the cartoon is based on a series of book by Annette Tison and Talus Taylor) started at 6 a.m. on some public television station. It's New England we received a lot of Canadian public television in the 70's and early 80's. It was my favorite cartoon and I couldn't think of anything better than bouncing along to the theme song in the darkened living room. The glow of the screen and the Barabapapa family was all I needed for the next hour or so.

When T.D. began to teethe I handed over this precious new Barabapapa. She gummed his soft squishy pink body and I happily began reading her all the books in the collection. I had saved them through numerous room purges from elementary school, high school and beyond. As I read the books to her now I began to notice just how much this pink blob and his colorful blobby children and wife shaped me. Barbapapas are all about innovative thinking, gentle manners and protecting the earth they live on. They solve problems using the talents each family members possesses, change shapes and have the most vivid and brilliant imaginations. I love reading the whole series of Barbapapa books with T.D. just as much as I loved having my Mom read them to me.

While my collection of Barbapapa books has grown ratty over the years(I've met only one other soul who remembers Barbapapa.) I still cherish them and hold them close to my heart. The bright illustrations of the Barbafamily building a home together, helping sick animals and creating a school for their community always remind me what is truly important in life. That sense of family, community building and celebrating everyones natural talents is what makes me, well, me. I love sharing it with my daughter and hope that despite all the scotch tape on the binding and pages the colors of the characters will still be bright enough to share with her children some day.

This post was brought to you by a PBN Blog Blast and Highlights Magazine (now in its 60th year!). It's all about sharing too! Visit the site (comment here too!) about what favorite things from your childhood you like sharing with your children and you could win a free subscription to Highlights new magazine, 'High Five'.


  1. Anonymous1:58 PM

    I love BARBAPAPA!!!

  2. Anonymous4:36 PM

    i never heard of Barbapapa..but wathcing your utube link...kinda reminds me of (don't be offended) telletubbies... just the narrators voice...
    -Marie :D
    PS I miss you.. hope to se eyou soon

  3. This is SO popular in Sweden. I remember seeing stuff everywhere with this guy and I kept thinking...I've seen this before, but where. Now I know. It's from long ago.

  4. Melissa Parlaman (Graco Contributor)6:05 PM

    I have never heard of Barpapapa either but it is fun seeing your child enjoy your childhood "friends."
    My daughter now loves Care Bears (and even has my old care bear that my mom kept for many years in the trusty attic). She give Care A Lot Bear a good wash & now it is good to go.

  5. I loved this post! And I loved the Barbapapas. At my baby shower, my friends all gave me books that reminded them of their childhoods. Later, my sister and friend who had arranged the party and I realised that we were missing the Barbapapas. I went online to buy them each one as a thank you but they were prohibitively expensive (unless you want the French version). I see a lot of the stuff to buy in London but I haven't seen any repros of the books - so treasure yours!

  6. Swati8:16 AM

    It's great to know that some other people are also equally interested in Barbapapa. During my childhood, TV shows in India were very limited and the one I remember very clearly is this show - for the simple reason dat i used to always address my dad by this name.

    I was too young to remember anything else besides the name and a part of the theme music. I
    have been tryin to lay my hands on more stuff about Barbapapa as a memory of my dad. Please let me know where I could get the CDs and books (in Egnlish).

  7. Misstress Maddie1:38 PM

    Your not the only soul to remember it.I had forgotten it competley all these years when one night it poped in my head.How I miss the show. So I googgle it and came to your site.I remember watching t my Grandmother's house when I was little at 6am!!So the show makes me think of her also who is now passed one.Thank-you for posting this and the authors name.I'm seaching for books now!

  8. My mother has a tear in her eye after reading this.
    She's fixing and rebinding 30+ year old books for her grandchildren as I write this...

    We four siblings got a lot of reading out of these books.


  9. Sudha8:06 AM

    wow!!! i have been asking all my friends and cousins if they remember barpapapa... and i always get a no for an answer.
    saw this by chance - when i started doubting whether the show's name was something different. :)
    thanks for posting this :)

  10. Anonymous3:51 PM

    I totally remember this show! I loved it! No one else ever knows what I'm talking about when I bring it up. I can't remember if I watched it on PBS in Montana or in Minnesota. I couldn't remember the name of the show but I remembered what they looked like and tried numerous Google searches trying to find them again. Then, last week, I was going through old boxes of things my mother has hoarded over the last 2 decades when I FOUND the Barbapapa hand mirror with Barbapapa and Barbamama on the back. I was SO excited! It had their names on it and I've been looking online to find the videos and other items ever since. Thanks for the post! I know I'm not the only one who watched this show!
    St. Paul, MN


Thanks for commenting! It's always good to hear from a reader and not say, a robot.