|The Jungle Book|
|Author - Rudyard Kipling
For more than a hundred years, Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories about Mowgli, the wolf-boy, have captivated children and adults alike. The Jungle Book(1894) and The Second Jungle Book (1895) tell of Mowgli who is found by wolves as a baby after his parents are frightened away by Shere Khan, the tiger. He is totally without fear and becomes ‘a human cub’ in the family of wolves. Soon, he is fast friends with Baloo the bear and Bagheera, the panther. The mighty python Kaa is another of his bosom pals. He learns the ways of the jungle from the wise old Baloo, and from Bagheera. Once he is carried off by the crafty Monkey-People — only to be rescued by Baloo and Kaa. Mowgli’s days are full of fun and gay adventure till he comes face to face with the awesome Shere Khan, the man-hating tiger. After a long hunt, the tiger is at last killed by the villagers. Mowgli sees and falls in love with a girl who comes to fetch water from the river and with her, he returns to the village to become ‘civilized’ once more.
The Jungle Book has a number of songs (not connected to the songs in Disney’s animated film) as does The Second Jungle Book. The sequel has a few stories that are concerned with Mowgli and his further adventures as a grown man.
There are also several stand-alone stories, including one of a politician who turns his back on all that he has accomplished, takes up a beggar’s bowl, and becomes a wandering holy man — a theme Kipling returned to in his colourful novel, Kim. And another favourite is the story of the Eskimo boy Kotuko, who saves his village from starvation.
Besides being a novelist, Rudyard Kipling was an accomplished poet and short story writer. He was Britain’s first Nobel Literature laureate, winning the award in 1907. He was born in Bombay and lived for some time in a bungalow in the JJ School of Arts where his father was a teacher. He was sent back to England and after he grew up, returned to India and worked as a journalist for a number of years. Kipling also wrote the popular Just So Stories and Plain Tales from the Hills.
Excerpt:The bushes rustled a little in the thicket, and Father Wolf dropped with his haunches under him, ready for his leap. Then, if you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful thing in the world —the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then he tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight into the air for four or five feet, landing almost where he left ground.
“Man!” he snapped. “A man’s cub. Look!”
Directly in front of him, holding on by a low branch, stood a naked brown baby who could just walk—as soft and as dimpled a little atom as ever came to a wolf’s cave at night. He looked up into Father Wolf’s face, and laughed.
“Is that a man’s cub?” said Mother Wolf. “I have never seen one. Bring it here.”
A Wolf accustomed to moving his own cubs can, if necessary, mouth an egg without breaking it, and though Father Wolf’s jaws closed right on the child’s back not a tooth even scratched the skin as he laid it down among the cubs.
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; Golden Gft edition (September 27, 1995)
|Review - Jayanthi Mahalingam