J is for The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera, Akela, and even Kaa and Sher Khan were all favorite characters of many kids in India (and more). Of course, most of you have heard of it because of the many movies (and the various TV series as well perhaps); in the beginning of all these screen versions was – the book. The movie and TV versions, you could say, were inspired by the book, rather than based on it, and you might arrive at that conclusion yourselves when you read Kipling’s original stories and watch the screen versions. You can read the book on Gutenberg here.
The book and I: I saw the movie first – the Disney animated version years ago, as a very young girl. I think this was maybe the first Disney animated movie to make it to the theater in our sleepy town (well, actually to the theater a couple of miles from our sleepy town – to another equally hidden town in the middle of the state, literally!). Anyhoo, this is a memory so sharp in my mind that I wonder at it. I remember walking to the theater with my family wearing my favorite dress (or frock as we called it), and my little brother in tow, and being totally excited before, during, and after the movie. I cried, I think – most likely I did..(I was, and sometimes still am, a total ‘crier’ when I watch movies or TV SHOWS, and sometimes when I read books too).And then a couple of years later, I read the book – and I was wowed again.
I watched the animated TV series (this was a Japanese anime – Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli dubbed in Hindi and other regional languages in India) that would air every Sunday on Doordarshan and we would all sing along with the title song ‘jungle, jungle baat chali hain, pata chala hain, cheddi pehenke ...’ . You can watch the song here. And finally, just a couple of years ago, watched the non-animated movie while in India during the summer and waited till the credits rolled by us because it was rumored that the Indian release of the movie would play the aforementioned song sometime in the movie. Sadly, we never heard it.. but loved the movie.
Rudyard Kipling managed to write a book that translates to the screen so well and wows in its every form and that is a magic in itself – of his writing.. he also wrote so many other books and short stories, and one illustrated collection i truly enjoyed a few years ago was his ‘Just So Stories‘.
Now to the book finally – here are a few interesting facts about the book.The Scouts and the book – Sir Baden Powell was so impressed with the book and the Law of the Jungle that he requested permission from Kipling to use names and more from the book for his scouting society. Kipling was likewise impressed with the concept of scouting and with Sir Baden Powell and agreed. And so it is that we have tigers, wolves, and bears in the advancement trail for Cub Scouts, and we have the Law of the Pack that the Cub Scouts follow, and we have the leader of the pack – called Akela (from the leader of the wolves in the book)!
Family and the book – In 2010, a first edition was discovered in National Trust’s Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire with an inscription to his daughter Josephine (who died in 1899 at the age of six). Though it is unsigned, the handwriting does suggest it was Kipling himself who wrote it, and further suggests that he wrote the book for her (source – BBC)
His father, Lockwood Kipling was an illustrator and professor at the Sir J J School of Art in Bombay, and provided illustrations for the original publications. The book containing the original stories and illustrations is also available on Amazon and elsewhere.
Plagiarism? – In a letter written by Kipling about the book/the stories in the book, he admits to having stolen the stories/the ideas for the stories, but also mentions he cannot recall from whose stories he might have stolen
The Second Jungle Book – Kipling wrote a sequel to The Jungle Book named, well, ‘The Second Jungle Book’ which contained five stories about Mowgli and three unrelated stories. I learned about this while researching for this post myself and am reading it currently. You can read it online here.
Or get both books together in one book in print here.
Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book for Kids: 3 Short Melodramatic Plays for 3 Group Sizes (Playing With Plays) (Volume 13) – I also found a series of books which will be surely a great resource for teachers. From the book’s description – The Jungle Book like you have never read it before: quick, fun, and easy to understand. Designed for 6-16+ actors, kids of all ages, or anyone who wants to enjoy and have fun with Rudyard Kipling’s classic story.
This post goes towards ABC Wednesday‘s round 22 – letter J (my theme for ABC Wednesday’s Round 22 is children’s books – I will pick one popular (and sometimes the not so popular/the unknown) book – classic/modern/old/new… – and write about it – be it a backstory or facts or something else completely).