Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Jungle Book

Title:  The Jungle Book
Author:  Rudyard Kipling
Publication Information:  Macmillan. 1894. 174 pages.
ISBN:  None for the original. Multiple subsequent editions.

Book Source:  I read this book through the Serial Reader app.

Opening Sentence:  "It was seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in the tips."

Favorite Quote:  "One of the beauties of Jungle Law is that punishment settles all scores. There is no nagging afterward."

The Jungle Book is a book I have never read in its entirety. My vision of these stories is based on the many children's book and cartoon adaptations. Most, if not all of those, have focused on the story of Mowgli.

In fact, the name The Jungle Book has become synonymous with Mowgli's story. This is the story of an orphaned human boy who is raised by animals as one of their own. As he grows though, there are those who would sow discord and point out the differences. That seems a familiar story in humans even today even though these stories were originally written in 1894. Sadly, some things never change.

The next most familiar story for me is the story of Riki-Tiki-Tavi, the story of the mongoose versus the pair of snakes. The name is a memorable one.

Most of these stories are based around animals. Research states that some may have their origin in Indian mythology. Rudyard Kipling was born in India and lived there for the first six years of his life. He then moved to England, but returned to India a decade later for about another six or seven years. So, these stories written originally for his daughter are perhaps a reflection of his own childhood experiences. Interestingly, other than the rare reference to a region, the books do not specify where the story takes place, making them more universal.

Most of these stories are based in the animal world. However, the stories are fables, and the themes and lessons are decidedly human. Mowgli is an orphan made a part of a family and then abandoned again. He returns to his human family but is again made to feel the outsider. Riki-Tiki-Tavi is the underdog who overcomes a powerful cobra. Toomai is the little guy who is greatly underestimated but proves what he can accomplish. The white seal is the one who is "different" and who seeks his own path; in doing so, he emerges a leader.

Such themes echo throughout the stories. As is expected in a collection of short stories, some resonate more with me than others. They may not have quite the magic that they did in my childhood, but they do bring me back to that magic and complete my knowledge of this iconic children's classic. Most importantly, they take me on a trip down memory lane through the reading I did in my own childhood and through the special moments I cherish of reading with my children. I hope the legacy continues as stories are shared generation to generation.


Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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