Children's Fiction

Book Review: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

– Short Review –

This is the story of a wolf pack who adopt a human child, when the tiger, Shere Khan, hunts outside of his territory against the law of the jungle. Mowgli, the boy, grows up with the animals. He learns the law of the jungle from Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther is his protector. But Shere Khan, the strongest of the hunters, as well as the most alone, is biding his time until he can get the prey that he thinks is rightfully his. Most people have seen the movie, but Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is a very special story with much more in it than the film, as well as being a magically told tale.

Five out of five STORGY typewriters

– Longer Review –

Rudyard Kipling might sound like an old-fashioned writer. He is certainly long dead, and his personal beliefs make some grown-ups think his writing isn’t worth reading. Other grown-ups make children read his poems and other stories at high school, and that is often a sure way to turn teenagers off to reading, well some of them at least. But The Jungle Book is a truly magical tale. Yes, there is the movie by Disney. Rudyard Kipling, however, weaves the story of the ‘man-cub’ brought up by the animals in the jungle so beautifully his words are as mesmerising as the hypnotism Kaa the snake uses to kill his prey.

The jungle is brought to life and you are transported across oceans and continents to India. Mr Kipling shows you a world you couldn’t possibly visit, a strange world with different rules, which in turn makes us think about our own world in different ways. And this is a truly powerful thing when a book can do all that.

The story itself is better than the cut-down version Disney told (which is a brilliant movie, I think). It is a story of right and wrong and good and evil, a story of growing up and the responsibilities that come with it. It is a story of different kinds of wisdom: that of man, verses that of the jungle. Some of the most wonderful parts of the story are set in a ruined city deep in the jungle. But the ending stands apart. Mowgli must defeat Shere Khan, an animal far stronger than a puny human. Mowgli has brains, but of course the people who built the great city in the jungle had brains, but they have long disappeared, their cleverness comes with a price, you see.

You can get this book for penny’s, or buy a new beautiful illustrated version, or an old book with a leather cover that smells of dust and secrets, or you can listen to a wonderful audio reading. However you get it into your brain, I think you should. Transport yourself to the jungle and learn its laws. But beware Shere Khan there stalks.

The Jungle Book is available here.

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Read about Rudyard Kipling here.

Reviewed by Daniel Soule

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