Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes

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Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes

Woollard Kipling.jpg
Buy Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Children's Rhymes and Verse
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A wonderful selection of the Kipling originals, given dazzling colour and equally splendid rhyming structure.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: October 2017
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781509814749

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Now, whatever our age, there are probably a few books that we have all encountered at some point in our childhoods. They have stood the test of time to such an extent that they have become a piece of our culture common to so many of us, and are known throughout the world. One of them is by Rudyard Kipling, who brought a child's sense of wonder and his own Victorian absurdist set of explanations to play in a dozen examples of warm whimsy. In shrugging off evolution he got to convey how the rhino skin is so ill-fitting and rumpled, how the whale learnt he cannot eat humans, and how the elephant got such a thing as his trunk. In doing so he entertained his young daughter, not knowing she would die as a child long before he produced a book-length collection – and way before he saw something into print that has lasted ever since. Just in case these tales are not for your young audience yet (and it won't be long, trust me), you can start them in early with this lovely and bright adaptation.

It's only an adaptation of five of the pieces, mind, and not the full dozen, but that's the nearest thing to a fault about this book. The whale, rhino, camel, elephant and the errant and untameable cat are the subjects here – no, there's not even room for 'how the leopard got his spots' and other such classics that we can all immediately identify with. But it's a wonderful adaptation. Most of the time the book is in AABCCB rhyme, with a wonderful bouncy meter, although it can also branch out into ABCCB, and be closer to the limerick – it's only when the fourth piece jumps from one to another that you get a hiccup in reading this aloud. Elsewhen sharing this would be a pure joy.

Equally joyous are the artworks on these pages – the design for all the characters, human or animal, is great, and the colours pop and give you an equal to the full spirit and vibrancy of the poems themselves. I loved the patterned end-papers that every story gets. As far as adaptation goes, it makes a certain cake-baker into a Westernised person, but definitely proves we're on the whole in exotic climes. (And as far as the editing of the text goes, the elephant tale has lost a lot of slapstick violence, which is actually no bad thing.)

Nowhere does this get the sense of the throwaway, or the non-permanent. All round this is a book to stand as an heirloom – no, there's nothing wrong with the original when the child in the house is old enough to get the most from its style, but there's also scope for keeping this variant to pass down through the generations. How do you get a book to have an exceedingly long lifespan? The answer is to make it just so.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

If you do want all the stories in the Kipling originals, here's where to turn.

Buy Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories by Elli Woollard and Marta Altes at Amazon.com.

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