Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book. Rudyard Kipling. 1893/1894. 138 pages. [Source: Bought]

First 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 their tips.

Premise/plot: The Jungle Book is a collection of seven short stories and seven poems by Rudyard Kipling. The stories are: "Mowgli's Brothers," "Kaa's Hunting," "Tiger, Tiger," "The White Seal," "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," "Toomai of the Elephants," and "Her Majesty's Servants." The poems are: "Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack," "Road Song of the Bandar-Log," "Mowgli's Song," "Lukannon," "Darzee's Chaunt," "Shiv and the Grasshopper," and "Parade Song of the Camp Animals."

A few of the stories do go together. These are probably the stories you'll remember as being THE JUNGLE BOOK. Stories featuring Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo, Kaa, Shere Khan, etc. But these stories are just a fraction of the book.

The best non-connected story is Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, a story about a brave mongoose's showdown with cobra snakes.

My thoughts: I really did enjoy the stories featuring Mowgli and friends. If ALL the stories were about these characters, no doubt I would want to reread it every few years and spend more time with my friends. But the Mowgli stories only make up THREE out of the seven. (Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is EXCELLENT. So that makes FOUR out of the seven worth reading.) The other stories range from boring to extremely boring. I got no pleasure, no joy, from reading the other stories. If I do ever reread this one, I will know to SKIP, SKIP, SKIP.

  • Lie still, little frog. O thou Mowgli — for Mowgli the Frog I will call thee — the time will come when thou wilt hunt Shere Khan as he has hunted thee.
  • I speak for the man’s cub. There is no harm in a man’s cub. I have no gift of words, but I speak the truth. Let him run with the Pack, and be entered with the others. I myself will teach him.
  • Now you must be content to skip ten or eleven whole years, and only guess at all the wonderful life that Mowgli led among the wolves, because if it were written out it would fill ever so many books.
  • “All the jungle is thine,” said Bagheera, “and thou canst kill everything that thou art strong enough to kill; but for the sake of the bull that bought thee thou must never kill or eat any cattle young or old. That is the Law of the Jungle.” Mowgli obeyed faithfully.
  • And he grew and grew strong as a boy must grow who does not know that he is learning any lessons, and who has nothing in the world to think of except things to eat.
  • “I was born in the jungle. I have obeyed the Law of the Jungle, and there is no wolf of ours from whose paws I have not pulled a thorn. Surely they are my brothers!”
  • By Red Flower Bagheera meant fire, only no creature in the jungle will call fire by its proper name. Every beast lives in deadly fear of it, and invents a hundred ways of describing it.
  • The boy could climb almost as well as he could swim, and swim almost as well as he could run.
  • “Is there anything in the jungle too little to be killed? No. That is why I teach him these things, and that is why I hit him, very softly, when he forgets.”
  • Kaa was not a poison snake — in fact he rather despised the poison snakes as cowards — but his strength lay in his hug, and when he had once lapped his huge coils round anybody there was no more to be said.
  • “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true,” they shouted.
  • One of the beauties of Jungle Law is that punishment settles all scores. There is no nagging afterward.
  • It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity.
  • The motto of all the mongoose family is “Run and find out,” and Rikki-tikki was a true mongoose.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jen said...

I was tempted to read this after giving up as a child. But I didn't realise it was short stories. Disappointing. I thought it was a novel. I recently watched Mowgli on Netflix it was good. Not sure about reading this now

Becky said...

Jen, I would recommend Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli. It was WONDERFUL. The characterization is great and it's a real celebration of story telling. I felt it was true to the characters of the book and there wasn't a dull moment.