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The Jungle Book (Puffin Classics) Paperback – Illustrated, 30 Jun 1994
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This is the classic story of friendship between man and beast. Saved from the jaws of the evil tiger Shere Khan, young Mowgli is adopted by a wolf pack and taught the law of the jungle by lovable old Baloo the bear and Bhageera the panther. The adventures of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the snake-fighting mongoose, little Toomai and the elephant's secret dance, and Kotick the white seal are all part of Mowgli's extraordinary journey with his animal friends.
About the Author
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in India, although educated in England. He was a prolific writer and recognized as a genius. In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His many books for children include Just So Stories and Kim.
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I always thought that I had read this book as a child and the first story is basically the story that we all know and love with Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera, Shere Khan and Kaa the snake. However, there are so many different stories in this book, some I had heard of like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the mongoose who can kill even the biggest snake, but we are introduced to so many different characters that I realised I had never read the whole book. I am so pleased that I now have had the opportunity to do this because there are so many good stories regarding various jungle creatures.
However, even better for me were the stories of creatures not living in the jungle. There is one about seals that I particularly enjoyed but probably my favourite is the one describing the life of Eskimos living in the very frozen North. I almost felt the cold whilst I was reading this story of incredible hardship in finding food just in order to live.
Kipling was such a brilliant storyteller and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It really should be in the school curriculum and if it is not the parents should read this with their children as it is a delight.
Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
I should think that most older people will have read these books before, but for those who are new to these then you may be surprised if you are only aware of the Disney movie. Some of these tales are more violent than portrayed in cartoons, so be prepared, remember Tennyson wrote ‘Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw’.
In all, these tales make for entertaining reading and this is both for young and old. Kipling’s writing here really brings to life the landscapes and characters, giving this a little more depth than is usual for such stories. Entertaining people for generations this looks like it will continue to do so for many more generations to come.
This kindle edition had the text of the stories interspersed with the songs or poems in a typewriter-style font. It made them distinctive, but it distracted me from the beauty of them because the font was so much larger, comparatively, and also letters rather widely spaced. I'm never at my best reading poems in a narrative. However they are worth attention, for they flow and ebb like the breathing of the jungle itself.
There are stories here that are old favourites without my ever having read them. Somehow I absorbed Rikki-Tikki-Tavi through the wealth of experience. The descriptions of the animals and their actions are divine. I particularly remarked the way Rikki (a mongoose) tackled his prey, large or small. The story of Toomai of the Elephants was unknown to me, but so rich in its description of the jungle, of the elephant dance, I felt I was there. Maybe I have the advantage of having been on a holiday to watch tigers in the Indian National Parks and reserves, but the descriptions were so vivid I felt I had returned to places I'd been.
The last story, Her Majesty's Servants, has animals performing different duties in the Indian regiments describing their roles and their interaction with man and their purpose as they see it. It reminded me of Captain in Black Beauty, but more, it gave me a vivid flashback to The Maltese Cat, a Rudyard Kipling story I read in an anthology when I was in my teens. Kipling's remarkable ability to consider how animals might see their interaction with the world they are in is neither anthropomorphic nor naturalistic. It is somewhere in between - animals making sense of the madness of the human world, but reciprocating the bonds that humans feel with their animals. What this story offers is insight into history during the time of such conflicts, much as War Horse does. It is a window into a bygone world.
Is it relevant to today's teenage reader? I believe so. The richness of the language may also be old-fashioned, but there are plenty of wonderful literary works of that and former periods that are recommended reading. A lover of words, or animals, or travel, or bygone ages, will love this book. Even if the seal story, The White Seal, is a rather jarring incongruency in the middle of an Indian landscape. I wouldn't consider it a book for 7-11 though, unlike the Product Reviewer. But then I'm also reading Professor Branestawm, labelled 9+ years, which I would put in the 7-11 bracket. Maybe my ideas are just different.
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