May 11, 2012

Jungle Book Stories

by Rudyard Kipling adapted by P. Craig Russell

I've always been fond of the Jungle Book stories, perhaps the second volume even more than the first, as there's more variety to the tales (not all about Mowgli) and they're not as well-known. This richly illustrated graphic novel includes three of the later stories.

"The King's Ankus" relates how Mowgli is shown a treasure in a ruin beneath the jungle, guarded by a white cobra. Mowgli is puzzled at why men value the jewels and riches, he doesn't understand the worth of something you can't eat. He's intrigued by the design of an instrument used to prod elephants and wants to carry it away into the light but the cobra warns him that it will bring death to many. Mowgli doesn't believe this, but when he later tosses aside the ankus, he discovers that indeed, men will kill each other in order to possess it (there are jewels in the handle). He and Bagheera follow the trail of six men who die over the ankus, then they recover it and return it to the treasure cave, disgusted with the waste of human life.

In "Red Dog", rumor of a large dhole pack coming into the area makes all the animals anxious. Mowgli is advised to leave the area until the dhole are done hunting there, but instead he comes up with a scheme to outwit them in battle with the help of Kaa the python. First he taunts the dogs into a fury, then he leads them through swarms of bees, over a cliff into a tumultuous river, and finally the survivors are met by the wolf pack who engage them in bloody battle.

The last story, "The Spring Running" shows Mowgli feeling out of sorts. All the animals in the forest are infected with spring fever and seeking mates. Mowgli doesn't know what to do with himself or why he feels unsettled. He visits his mother, returns to the jungle again, then finally takes his leave of his animal friends, deciding to go back to mankind.

I remembered all these stories from when I read the books long ago, although I had forgotten many details. It was nice to revisit them in a format completely new to me.

rating: 3/5 ........ 88 pages, 2003

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Michael Vance (Flickr)


Jenny said...

Oh my God if there were a P. Craig Russell-illustrated Just So Stories I would read it every day. I read The Jungle Book once, when I was a kid, but it didn't enthrall me the way the Just So Stories did.

Jeane said...

I love the Just So Stories, too. If he illustrated a version of that, I'd look for it in a heartbeat!