The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Posted January 19, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

by Rudyard Kipling

Publisher: Macmillan Publishers on November 1, 1893
Genre: Animals, Classics, Poetry, Short Stories
Target Age Group: Adult, Middle Grade, New Adult, Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

Mowgli, the man-cub who is brought up by wolves in the jungles of Central India, is one of the greatest literary myths ever created. As he embarks on a series of thrilling escapades, Mowgli encounters such unforgettable creatures as Bagheera, the graceful black panther, and Shere Khan, the tiger with the blazing eyes. A rich and complex fable of human life, Kipling's enduring classic dazzles the imagination with its astonishing descriptive powers and lively sense of adventure.

 

I had absolutely no expectations for this book.  I knew it was a classic, and I believe classics are worth reading. I also knew (and am well familiar with) the Disney movie adaptations of the book.  Beyond that, I had no idea what I would find here.

And you know what? The Jungle Book is actually quite charming!

This book is a collection of short stories and poetry. Most of the stories revolve around the adventures of Mowgli, the “manling”, but not all of them.  There’s a tale of a seal, and a couple about dogs, and even conversation between multiple caravan animals.  For he most part, though?  These stories feature Mowgli and one or more of his jungle friends.  Each story is self-contained, but the book is better as a whole, in my opinion.

Even in short story format, you get to know the recurring characters well enough to be pleased when they pop up as a cameos in another story.  Outside the Jungle stories, the characters are one-story-only.  Which is fine – honestly?  These other stories are not impressive or endearing.  Baloo and Bagheera are favorites, as well as Kaa the Python (as may be surprising for those who grew up on the Disney version).  Newcomer Akela is a good character as well.

The formatting of this book works well, using a poem to transition between stories.  The way my edition is set up, the poem is related to the previous story.  I’m not sure if it’s universal, but I like the way it worked in mine and I thought the transitions were very successful.  I liked the poems well enough, and they didn’t intrude too much on the story.

If The Jungle Book was the type of book you’d written off as a children’s story, or as a dusty old classic, I would highly recommend giving this book a second chance.  It’s charming and enjoyable, and unique in its own way.  There are a few turns of phrases that are a little cringy, but because this book so heavily relies on the animals and Mowgli’s perspectives, the traces of racism are very minor, and only present in a couple stories.  Honestly, even for an animal book (I know a lot of people have opinions about those – I don’t typically enjoy them myself) this is very good.

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Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★

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The Jungle Book stays on my shelf!

Honestly, I thought The Jungle Book was charming, and I would probably read it again.  I don’t think it would rate as high as some other classics I own – like Anne of Green Gables for example – but I did enjoy it.  It was a quick read as well, and certainly the type of thing that I could pick up and just read a  story or two without needing to commit to the entire thing.

So, yeah, that doubled with the fact I really like the edition I have (the leather-bound word cloud edition), I think that this is a book that will have a home on my shelf indefinitely.

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What was the last classic you read that exceeded your expectations?  I enjoy many classics, and I’m always excited to add another one to the “good” list.  Tell me all about the ones you like in the comments!

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