//by Rudyard Kipling//published 1912//
Booyah, all about alternating sides for the book cover now. I am also really getting into this queue thing, and I’ve figured out how to link my posts over to Twitter, so go me!
So, while I’ve read both The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, plus Kipling’s autobiography (all back in the day when I was really quite terrible at writing book reviews; please don’t judge me), I’ve never really read much of Kipling’s other works. I seem to have both Just So Stories, as well as Captains Courageous (which I just started today) on my shelf, so I thought I would give them a whirl.
I personally found Just So Stories hilarious, although they definitely have to be read with a strong dose of “remember when these were originally published.” While I had heard some of the stories before (especially “The Elephant’s Child”), some of them were completely new to me. All of the stories were written as bedtime tales to Kipling’s daughter (I don’t necessarily mean they were literally written as bedtime tales; I have no idea about that; but they were presented as such), and are definitely stories originally intended for younger readers. Kipling infuses lessons of humility and the importance of obedience, but manages to do so almost tongue-in-cheek, as sometimes his most naughty characters are the ones most rewarded!
The best part of this book are definitely the black-and-white illustrations by Kipling himself. Not only does he draw at least one illustration for each story, he writes at least a paragraph, sometimes more, of description of said picture. Sometimes the descriptions had more of the story than the story, and they were my favorite part, especially when Kipling would explain, in a rather hurt tone, that the pictures would look much better if he were “allowed” to paint them in color rather than having to draw them in black and white.
The caption for this picture, for instance, reads:
This is the Elephant’s Child having his nose pulled by the Crocodile. He is much surprised and astonished and hurt, and he is talking through his nose and saying, ‘Led go! You are hurtig be!’ He is pulling very hard, and so is the Crocodile, but the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake is hurrying through the water to help the Elephant’s Child. All that black stuff is the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River (but I am not allowed to paint these pictures), and the bottly-tree with the twisty roots and the eight leaves is one of the fever trees that grow there.
Underneath the truly picture are shadows of African animals walking into an African ark. There are two lions, two ostriches, two oxen, two camels, two sheep, and two other things that look like rats, but I think they are rock-rabbits. They don’t mean anything. I put them in because I thought they looked pretty. They would look very fine if I were allowed to paint them.
Overall, while I’m not sure I agree with all the messages in Kipling’s little stories, they are still a great deal of fun, and quite full of humor, making them a relaxing read for a quiet evening.