Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Review of Great Illustrated Classics The Jungle Book By Rudyard Kipling

Name of Book: Great Illustrated Classics The Jungle Book

Author: Rudyard Kipling

ISBN: 978-0866119887

Publisher: Baronet Books

Type of book: Jungle, feral children, India, laws, animals, 1800s, man vs animal

Year it was published: 1895


Reared by wolves in the jungle, Mowgli sometimes hunts with the animals and sometimes is hunted by them! He must face unfriendly ones on his own- like the chattering army of monkeys who kidnap him to their tree-top home; the ever-hungry tiger, Shere Khan; even his own kind, Man- and learn to live by the law of the jungle.

These wonderful stories, each one more exciting than the last, can be read time and again for thrills, adventure, and endless insight into people and animals and their relationship.


In this version of Jungle Book the characters seemed to have very little depth although they did go through changes. Mowgli could be called as a God of the Jungle because with one mistake he seems to do no wrong in the jungle; Shere Khan is evil and that's it; they didn't feel like actual characters I could relate to.


There is hope for all feral children. (Umm, not really. In my psychology class, the feral children never became normal and functioned as part of society.)


The focus is on Mowgli's early life followed by skippage and then him finally leaving the jungle forever and trying to live as a human. I think I also might have detected some hints of  *ahem* possible racism that the editor tried to gloss over. (When Mowgli makes a choice to live in the house, one of the men from the village wants to kill him and his family; the village that his family wants to escape to is ruled by British who are fair...really? British really mistreated various races in the past...)

Author Information:
(from pages 4-5 in the book)

On December 30th, 1865, Rudyard Kipling was born to British parents in Bombay, India. His childhood wasn't especially happy, since he was raised by Indian nurses for his first six years, then taken to England to live with a foster family for the next five. He was then sent to boarding school, where he edited the newspaper and began writing.

At age seventeen, Kipling returned to India and spent seven years writing stories and poems for magazines. Many of these, as well as some of his later ones, were based on Indian folk tales told to him by his childhood nurses. Others, especially those involving animals, were influneced by Aesop's Fables and the Uncle Remus stories. Still others resulted from Kipling's living in ENgland and America, and his travels to Australia, Japan, and Africa.

Kipling's stories and poems for children were very popular. The fifteen stories of Mowgli and his animal friends who appear in The Jungle Book (1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895) along with his Just SO Stories (1902), tell of wise and witty animals whose behavior is very human. They joke, boast, obey and disobey laws, get in trouble and get punished. But they also follow their own animal instincts in order to survive.

Novels, stories and poems centering around people added to Kipling's popularity. Kim (1905) tells the story of a poor orphan's life among the Indian natives. Captains Courageous (1897) centers around a rich American boy rescued from drowning by a family of New England fishermen. Kipling's most famous, "Gunga Din,", recounts the tale of a gallant Indian boy shot while carrying water to British soldiers.

During his lifetime and before his death in 1936, Rudyard Kipling published twelve volumes of short stories, five volumes of poems, and six novels. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.


While the story was fascinating and engaging, it was not complete. (I recall skimming through my Russian version of the book and there was mention of bad weather which this one didn't mention.) The details have been cut out and it was a bit dry. Also, the book sounded very much like the Disney version of The Jungle Book; the events are skimmed through and whatever impact they might have had is not well explored. This is a good start out if you're just looking for something general or to try out. If you're looking for something deeper with more details, I would advise to find another The Jungle Book.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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