The Elephant’s Child & Other Stories
Rudyard Kipling (Edited by Sudhakar Marathe)
Most of us have grown up hanging on to every visual of ‘The Jungle Book’ TV adaptation – I still sing the title song to my son when he is roaming around wearing his undies! And then I discovered that it was actually a book, that I could read over and over and make my own adaptations in my mind every time, and that though the TV adaptation was very nice, it could never do justice to what the stories were – and I just fell in love with Rudyard Kipling.
‘The Elephant’s Child and Other Stories’ is a compilation of stories divided in three parts, and gets progressively challenging in terms of content – Part 1 has all the imagination bundled up, as you think of the elephant with a really short stubby nose, the kangaroo walking on all fours, and a butterfly who could stamp the garden. There’s also the very engaging account of how the first letter was written and how the alphabet was made, and about the plus and minus in Gods’ world. Part 2 has the stories from the eternal favorite ‘The Jungle Book’ – ‘Mowgli’s Brothers’, ‘Tiger-Tiger!’ and ‘Rikki-Tikki Tavi’. You can never have enough of them. Part 3 moves on to more serious and thought-provoking stuff – ‘Little Tobrah’, ‘Tods’ Amendment’, ‘An Unqualified Pilot’, ‘The Story of Muhammad Din’ and ‘Lispeth’ – they are stories of children, but need to be dealt with carefully, as some of them are quite sad. Be sure to be around the kids to talk them over should they want to.
The stories are a storyteller’s delight – they have not been written, they have been told, with appropriate addressing throughout. When you read ‘O Most Beloved’, you can actually hear Kipling telling the story to you in your head. The language is almost lyrical, and he plays masterfully with words.The Part 1 stories especially have a lot of repetitive text, which is a bucketful of fun when you are reading aloud, and boosts the confidence of a budding reader immensely should she choose to read on her own. In fact, it is a great book to be read aloud to all age groups – the kids will grasp the word play better when they are hearing the words rather than reading them. There are a few tough or archaic words, but you don’t stumble upon them.
Read this book and indulge in some clever word-play, some imagination, a dash of humour and a bit of introspection with your kids!
This review first appeared on Indian Moms Connect, where we partner with them for giving you monthly recommendations for books.