The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

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RATING: 2.5/5

BLURB: “First published by Macmillan in 1894, The Jungle Book is the classic collection of animal tales that shows Rudyard Kipling’s writing for children at its best. The short stories and poems include the tale of Mowgli, a boy raised by a pack of wolves in the Indian jungle. We meet the tiger Shere Khan, Bagheera, the black panther, Baloo, the ‘sleepy brown bear’, and the python, Kaa. Other famous stories include the tale of the fearless mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and that of elephant-handler Toomai of the Elephants.”

REVIEW: What little I knew of ‘The Jungle Book’, prior to reading the lovely copy I picked out on a birthday bookshop trip back in February, was – unsurprisingly to anyone who knows me – was gained from watching the Disney version many, many, MANY times. What I didn’t realise, however, was that the original text of ‘The Jungle Book’ does not just consist of the familiar – and very enjoyable – story of the man-cub Mowgli; it also contains a number of other short stories based in the Jungle, including the story of the mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, which was probably the one I enjoyed the most after the traditional Jungle Book tale. For the purposes of this review, I will focus on ‘The Jungle Book’ story itself, as this is the one we are all the most familiar with. Although all of our favourite characters remain; the brave Mowgli, bold Bagheera, bumbling Baloo, sinister Kaa and the terrifying Shea Khan; many aspects of the story are changed and become, in fact, far more disturbing. The meeting with the monkeys – King Louis in particular – one of the most famous parts of the Disney film, does not in fact happen, or if it does it was done so briefly that I missed it entirely. The orginal tale by Kipling is also much more gruesome, and for example we see Mowgli skinning Shea Khan and holding up the removed fur to boast of his killing of the tiger. The other stories I did not find particularly memorable, and I did not even enjoy the original Jungle Book story as much as I thought I would. I do think, however, that my love of Disney may have blinkered my interpretation of the book, and therefore I would still urge you all to read it, as I know it is regarded as a much-loved children’s classic.

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