Friday, July 3, 2015

Just So Stories (Groundwood Books)

Rudyard Kipling was an English writer who was born in Bombay. He was known primarily for his short stories, which made him famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, when he was only 42. He is still the youngest winner to this day. His most famous work was The Jungle Book, which though many have not read, recognize from Disney's adaptation of it. Today, I am reviewing my favorite Kipling work, his Just So Stories. Groundwood Books produced these books in two beautifully illustrated volumes.

Just So Stories, Volume 1 is an 87 page hardcover with illustrations by Ian Wallace. The stories included in this volume are as follows:

1. How the Whale Got His Throat
2. How the Camel Got His Hump
3. How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin
4. How the Leopard Got His Spots
5. The Elephant's Child
6. The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo

Just So Stories, Volume 2 is at thicker 139 page hardcover also illustrated by Ian Wallace. The stories included in this volume are as follows:

1. The Beginning of the Armadilloes
2. How the First Letter Was Written
3. How the Alphabet Was Made
4. The Crab The Played with the Sea
5. The Cat That Walked by Himself
6. The Butterfly That Stamped

Missing from this collection is The Tabu Tale, which to be fair, is omitted from most British versions. Unlike most of Kipling's works which smack of a very pro-empire view of Britain, these stories are written for children, more specifically Kipling's niece. However, I believe children come in all ages, so even those children in their twenties and thirties will be amused and enlightened by these tales as well. For example, did you know that a whale can only eat small fish, because a whale once swallowed a boy, and that boy built a gate in the whale's throat to prevent it from swallowing big fish and people? Or did you know that a rhinoceros is irritable and has folds in his skin because he got cake crumbs in his skin and as much as he scratched, all he could accomplish was stretching his skin out but not getting rid of the crumbs?

The stories that deal with animals are easily the most enjoyable for me and my family, but the ones involving the alphabet proved to be interesting. What really makes these stories though, is the illustrations! The pictures are gorgeous and plentiful! It's always disappointing when children's books don't have many pictures, but they occur in these volumes, about every third page. Most take up the whole page as well, so you and your little ones don't have to squint when reading together. Though these stories are well over 100 years old, they still stand the test of time. So, I encourage you to read them to your kids. If you have adult kids, read them to your grandkids. Make it a family affair, and keep these beautiful stories alive for future generations.

These books were provided to me for free by Groundwood Books in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!