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The Jungle Book
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rudyard Kipling's book of short stories The Jungle Book is far less whimsical (and musical) than Disney's classic animated film, and it includes stories with different central characters besides Mowgli, the "mancub" raised by wolves and befriended by Baloo the bear. However, in part because of the charming movie, Mowgli's stories are probably the best loved and best known pieces in the collection. These wonderful stories, which alternate with lyrical poems about the characters, depict a complex and sometimes dangerous natural world in which creatures must respect the "ways of the jungle" in order to coexist. Creatures hunt and kill each other in suspenseful scenes, but almost all violent acts happen "offscreen." In one scene, Mowgli uses his wits to trick an adversary into being killed by a stampeding herd of cattle; the animal's death is not shown, but Mowgli is later described skinning the animal. In general, animals talk about killing others for food. The Jungle Book has been made into a number of film and TV versions, and a sequel to the book, The Second Jungle Book, contains more stories about Mowgli and other jungle creatures.
What's the story?
Rudyard Kipling's classic book of short stories THE JUNGLE BOOK contains several pieces about Mowgli, the \"mancub,\" who was taken from his human parents and ends up being raised by a wolf family. The book also includes stories about animal characters: \"Rikki Tikki Tavi,\" about a brave mongoose; \"The White Seal\" about a young seal that swims the Bering Strait; and \"Toomai of the Elephants,\" about a young elephant handler. All of the stories personify animals, and they show the complex relationship between creatures that hunt and fear each other in the wild. In Mowgli's stories, the most well known Jungle Book tales, the young boy grows up surrounded by his wolf family and his loyal friends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther. Mowgli struggles for acceptance in the wolf pack while trying to learn the ways of the jungle, avoid being tricked by mischievous monkeys, and evade Shere Khan the tiger, who's always lurking in the shadows.
Is it any good?
The Jungle Book has fascinated readers for more than 100 years with its unforgettable characters and beautifully rendered animal society. There's loads of action and adventure -- as Mowgli engages in a battle of wits with Shere Khan the tiger, or when Rikki Tikki Tavi protects his family from cobras -- and inspiring messages, too, about respecting the laws of nature and the ways intelligence and understanding can be more effective than brute strength. However, readers who are more familiar with Disney's rendition of The Jungle Book may need some encouragement to appreciate the beauty of the less whimsical original.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the Mowgli in the book different from the one in Disney's animated Jungle Book. What differences are there in the story?
What's difficult for Mowgli as he tries to fit in to the human village?
- Author: Rudyard Kipling
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Sterling Publishing
- Publication date: January 1, 1894
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 14
- Number of pages: 192
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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