Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling is an interesting set of fables aimed at teaching kids about animals, communication, and morals; all the while expanding their imagination. These are stories meant to be read out loud, and they use interesting rhyme patterns, alliteration, and repetition. I was a curious kid and probably asked how did a camel get it’s hump or an elephant get get it’s trunk and would have love a fantastical story sometimes involving witchcraft and wishes. Most of these stories involve animals with two stories involve early man. I read the version that is accompanied by illustrations and more insight to the story, that I would recommend. My exposure to these stories was through a graphic novel series called Unwritten that is written by M. R. Carey, who’s known for writing The Girl with all the Gifts and the Lucifer, where the story of how the whale got its throat is beautifully written and illustrated. I fell in love with the story and knew Rudyard Kipling like most through Jungle Book, but was excited when there was more stories like this. I was selected by netgalley and rebellion press to read a new collection of stories written by international writers inspired by Just So Stories called Not So Stories. So I wanted to read the original text first.
The Plot: The novel is full of 12 tales of fables, each fable contains a grain of truth. In the first tale how the whole got it’s throat involves a small fish that is getting chased by a whale as food. the little fish ask if he has ever eaten man, because the small fish saw a man stranded in the sea. The whale decides to eat the man and swallows him whole, but the man is a fighter and makes a rig that the whale can not swallow such a big thing and can only swallow small fish from now on. It use the fable to teach that despite a whale’s size they eat small fish instead if big objects like humans. The other tales do this while teaching lessons. My favorite tales are How the Camel Got his Hump, The Elephant’s Child (which is a story of how an elephant got it’s trunk), The Beginning of the Armadillos, How the First Letter was Written, and The Cat that Walked by Himself.
What I Liked: These stories were written so long ago and some aspects still have some relevance today. The imagination is incredible and if you’re like me you can’t help thinking up your own fables. I have my Bachelors in Communication and the two stories about how man communicates are so incredible they would be perfect as a great way to show early communication. This is an international story involving stories from Australia, Egypt, Africa, and India, each stories are different and use local legends to tell the tales. The fantastical nature of the stories are easy to now figure out the information, but at the time of the stories relying on superstition fooled a lot of kids.
What I Disliked – Out of the 12 stories the majority are 4 and 5 star stories, but the book is not with out some duds like How the Leopard got it’s Spots. The stories do use language of the time like the N-word, and and more than a few has the woman has her place stories.
Recommendations: I think over half of these stories can be read to a child without any changes, the other half need some little alterations and will need some explanations. The stories will inspire imagination and should be read out loud. Adults will admire the cleverness of the text, and get even more meaning out of the stories. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars and will read Not So Stories the new version of Just So Stories soon.