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Cover of hardbound edition of Barbapapa, ISBN 2-87881-230-1
AuthorsAnnette Tison and Talus Taylor
GenreChildren's literature
Published19 May 1970
PublisherL'École des Loisirs
LC ClassPZ7.T518

Barbapapa is a 1970 children's picture book by the French-American couple Annette Tison and Talus Taylor, who lived in Paris, France. Barbapapa is both the title character and the name of his "species". The book was the first of a series of children's books originally written in French and later translated into over 30 languages.[1]

Barbe à papa – literally "Daddy's beard" – is French for cotton candy or candy floss.[2]


The inspiration for Barbapapa came by chance in the Luxembourg Garden in Paris one day in May 1970.[2] While walking in the park with Annette Tison, Talus Taylor thought he heard a child ask his parents for something called "Baa baa baa baa". Not speaking French, he asked Tison what the words meant. She explained that the child was asking for a treat called Barbe à papa (cotton candy, literally 'daddy's beard'). Later at a restaurant, the couple began to draw on the tablecloth and came up with a character inspired by the candy: a pink and round character. When it came time to give it a name, Barbapapa came naturally.[3]

Several European publishers expressed interest in Barbapapa but did not wish to spend the publishing cost. Frank Fehmers, a Dutch publisher, subsequently set up a co-production, and the first editions were published in 1970.[4] The original editions were published in French by L'École des Loisirs, in Dutch by Frank Fehmers Productions, in English by the Ernest Benn Company, and in American English by the Henry Z. Walck Co.


The main characters in the books are the Barbapapa family, who are most notable for their ability to shapeshift at will. In their native form, Barbapapas are blob-shaped, with a distinct head and arms, but no legs. Male Barbapapas have rounder bottoms, whereas female Barbapapas have a more slender form. Each Barbapapa can adopt any form they choose, but they remain easily identifiable by always retaining their faces and their distinctive colour.[4]

Barbapapa himself is a generally papaya-shaped, pink shapeshifting blob-like creature who grows from the ground and tries to fit in the human world. The shapeshifting is usually accompanied by the saying "Clickety Click—Barba Trick", or in the 1970s British dub "All Change!"

After various adventures, Barbapapa comes across a female of his species (more shapely, and black-coloured), named Barbamama. They produce seven children: Four sons: Barbabravo, a sports fan (red), Barbabright, a scientist (blue), Barbazoo, a nature enthusiast (yellow) and Barbabeau, a painter (black and furry), as well as three daughters: Barbalala, a musician (green), Barbabelle, a narcissistic beauty queen (purple), and Barbalib, an intellectual (orange).[2][5]



A few years after the book had been produced, and when more titles had been published, Fehmers expanded the project to television films in conjunction with Joop Visch of Polyscope-PolyGram and Japanese animation studio Topcraft, with the storyboards designed by Taylor.[6] After twelve years, Fehmers and Tison/Taylor discontinued their business relationship. The first animated series, simply titled Barbapapa (バーバパパ, Baabapapa), was released on the French and Dutch televisions in 1974, while it premiered in Japan only in 1977. One hundred of five minutes long episodes, spanning two seasons, were produced and aired on television.[4]

In 1999, another Japanese animated series called Barbapapa Around the World (バーバパパ 世界をまわる, Baabapapa Sekai wo Mawaru) was aired. Animated by Studio Pierrot and produced by Kodansha, the series depicted the family going on a vacation through different countries. The series aired over 50 episodes.

In 2019, a new animated show, called "Barbapapa: One Big Happy Family!", was produced by Normaal Animation. It currently airs on TF1 in France, Yle TV2 in Finland. In Romania and in other countries, the channel is called Nick Jr. [7][8][9] The show was written by Alice Taylor and Thomas Taylor.[9] Alice is the daughter of Tison and Taylor. The English dub was produced by Jungle Studios in the United Kingdom and features a cast of up-and-coming child actors.


The first Barbapapa theme's lyrics were written by Harrie Geelen, and the music composed by Joop Stokkermans.[10]

The Japanese version of the series, as aired on TV Asahi, features an entirely different theme song from the original series, composed by Chuuji Kinoshita with lyrics by Zenzo Matsuyama.[11] The Italian version's song was sung by singer-songwriter Roberto Vecchioni.[12][13]

The Spanish kids' group Parchis made a song about the characters of the cartoon, named "Barbapapá".[14][15]

An Israeli song named "Barba'aba" (ברבאבא) was written by Yoram Taharlev and performed by Tzipi Shavit in 1978. It talks about Barbapapa being shunned by everyone for looking weird until he met Barbamama. The song became a kids' classic.[16][17]

Comic book[edit]

A comic book version was also created. Both cartoons and comics sometimes show concerns about the environment and contain environmental messages.


The Barbapapa cartoon is popular in many countries worldwide and has been dubbed into a wide variety of languages, including five separate English dubs. In the United States, it was syndicated on various networks throughout the 1970s with a dub by Magno Sound and Video in New York. The original series continues to air to this day on television in Italy and France and El Salvador and Barbapapa merchandise is still being produced annually in Japan.

Google created a doodle celebrating the 45th anniversary of the publishing of Barbapapa on May 19, 2015. Also to memorialise Talus Taylor. [2]

The song "Ce matin là" by the French electronic music duo Air (from their album Moon Safari) was inspired by the horn sounds on the Barbapapa show, per the band.

The 1994 song 'It's a Kid's World' by British post-rock/experimental rock trio Disco Inferno also samples the Barbapapa TV show theme.


  1. ^ "Barbapapa books". The official Barbapapa web site. Archived from the original on 22 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
  2. ^ a b c d "45th Anniversary of the creation of Barbapapa", Google, 19 May 2015, retrieved 2019-02-15
  3. ^ Les Barbapapa pleurent la mort de l'un de leurs créateurs, Le Figaro, 2 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b c de Voogt, Sam (2 March 2015). "De geestelijk vader van Barbapapa is overleden, maar het liedje beklijft nog". NRC (in Dutch). Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Barbapapa family". The official Barbapapa web site. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  6. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 112. ISBN 978-1476665993.
  7. ^ "Le dessin animé franco-américain Les Barbapapa de retour aux Etats-Unis!". French Flicks (in French). 9 July 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Barbapapa". Normaal Animation (in French). Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  9. ^ a b Foster, Elizabeth (11 June 2018). "Barbapapa goes global with Nick Jr". Kidscreen. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Barbapapa Rock". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  11. ^ "山野さと子/橋本潮/瀧本瞳/林アキラ/中尾隆聖/くまいもとこ バーバファミリーのうた 歌詞".
  12. ^ "Barbapapà". Roberto Vecchioni (in Italian). Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  13. ^ "Roberto Vecchioni E Le Mele Verdi*, Roberto Vecchioni, Le Mele Verdi – Barbapapà". Discogs. 11 September 1975. Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  14. ^ "Barbapapa Rock by Parchis". Retrieved 2019-02-15.
  15. ^ Crespo, Jota (2007-01-27), Parchis . Barbapapa., archived from the original on 2021-12-21, retrieved 2019-02-15
  16. ^ ציפי שביט - ברבאבא
  17. ^ ברבאבא - שירונט

External links[edit]