Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (3.5/5)

First published: 1894
Page count: 126
The back says: 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.

I say: I had no idea that this was a collection of short stories as I had only read the story about Mowgli as a child, so I am glad that I decided to read this once and for all.

Surprisingly, the most famous story about Mowgli was the one I liked the least.

Children’s versions of books are usually sparser than their adult counterparts, but it was still a bit of a surprise how detailed, and at times graphic, it was. Even though it was told in a somewhat captivating way, it kind of bored me. I had very little interest in Mowgli and his animal friends and their feud.

The other stories are “The White Seal” about a white seal searching for a beach where humans are unable to kill them. Again, this was contained graphic descriptions of men clubbing and skinning seals, as well as seals fighting each other.

“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” is a cute tale about a mongoose that saves himself and his humans from two vicious snakes.

“Toomai of the Elephants” is about a boy who wishes to see elephants dance, something which they say no man has ever witnessed.

“Her Majesty’s Servants”, which was my favourite story, is about different camp animals talking about the roles they play in war. It was humorous and insightful, and I will be reading it again at some point.

All in all it is a good selection of fables that all have that important moral lesson to them. Although somewhat gruesome, I suppose that is the true nature of the jungle. 

Kipling won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, and this is a reminder that I really should get on with that challenge.

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