Just So Stories

Book review by
Katherine Olney, Common Sense Media
Just So Stories Book Poster Image
Lively language, funny stories, fanciful animals.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Descriptions of animals both factual and imaginative.

Positive Messages

Observe animals and imagine who they came to look like they do. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

In fanciful stories, it's implied that the animals are adaptive. The story of how the leopard got its spots imagines that they were painted by an Ethiopian after he painted himself black -- a fantasy explanation that reflects Kipling's colonialist instincts.

Violence & Scariness

It may worry young children when the crocodile won't let go of the elephant.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book), originally published in 1902, offer 12 creation fables filled with lively language, humorous stories, and fanciful animals that are rendered in watercolor and pen-and-ink. It's an unusual and delightful read-aloud. It explores questions such as how the leopard got its spots, how he camel got its hump, how the elephant got his trunk, and so on. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byAnnetteM96 April 9, 2008

Bring your imagination and dictionary to the table!

Fun to read, but vocabulary is slightly advanced for little ones, on par for Kipling. The stories are fun and imaginative.

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What's the story?

JUST SO STORIES explores many questions: Why do elephants have trunks? Where did the alphabet come from? How did the leopard get his spots? In these 12 creation fables the mysteries are answered in the most creative ways. Informal pen-and-ink sketches along with detailed watercolor paintings draw the viewer into this charming world.


Is it any good?

These stories, written in lyrical, sing-song, half made-up words, flow from the tongue in a way that delights both reader and listener. Designed to be read aloud, they are less successful as a read-alone. Rudyard Kipling wrote these stories for his daughter, and they're named Just So Stories because she wanted them "just so."

The captions to his black and white illustrations are whimsical and gently naughty. They elaborate on the story (and sometimes things that don't even happen in the story). This endearing style doesn't always work. In The Crab That Played, Kipling's showy language is sometimes more confusing than playful. But in How the Whale Got His Throat, every word is aptly chosen.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fables in Just So Stories. How are these animals like people?

  • Come up with your own fantastic tales to explain how something came to be.

  • What other stories by Rudyard Kipling have you read or seen as movies? How does this book compare? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love classics and animal tales

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