Ask Maxwell: Best Gift for a New Parent of Twins?

published Sep 26, 2021
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book by Jean de Brunhoff
Credit: Maxwell Ryan
Babar and His Children

My best friend is having twins — wahoo! What is the best gift for new twin parents?? A nap?!


Dear Annie,

I would say TWO naps! 🙂

But seriously, I think that families that have twins probably have an amazing time — hair-raising, for sure — but amazing. I have a number of friends with twins and they are all very happy, BUT the root of your question seems to be what might be a good gift that MIGHT make everyone feel a little calmer about the big day that’s about to arrive. I get it. It’s GOT to calm twin-xiety.

Good thing that there’s someone who went there before us all and did a great job of writing it all down … Jean de Brunhoff of Babar fame.

Born in 1899, Jean fought in the very end of the World War I and returned home to become a professional painter, marrying Cécile Sabouraud, who was herself a professional pianist. He was just 25. She was four years younger. Together they had three children, the oldest of which was sickly, so Cécile began to tell her boys the story of the little elephant who escaped from the forest to come to the big city of Paris where his life was transformed. The stories delighted the children so much they convinced their father to illustrate it, which led to the two parents teaming up and publishing six books before Jean died of tuberculosis at the age of 37.

After Jean’s death, his brother found two more books, sketched in black and white that had never been completed. He managed to color and publish both with the help of Jean’s 13 year-old son, Laurent, who would later go on to continue the series.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

The last of these, Babar and His Children, is my very favorite and it centers on the day that Queen Celeste’s is about to give birth to their first child. Nervous nelly Babar, is so anxious that he is told to go for a bike ride to get away from the castle. As he sits on a nearby hill he hears the castle cannon going off, which means that their child has been born, BUT THEN the cannon goes off two more times! Triplets! I won’t spoil the story, but safe to say, they were not expecting three baby elephants and are in no way prepared. It’s a very down to earth story of how they cope and how things go awry, but all is well in the end.

Credit: Maxwell Ryan

I would recommend getting your friend an old, used version on Amazon or eBay because they are just more lovely and don’t cost any more. Enjoy!

Best, M

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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