The Jungle Book tells a wild and evergreen story (quite literally so) of a ‘man-cub’ named Mowgli and his adventures in the mysterious tropical jungles of India. This beautifully woven story is a sure-fire route to fantasy land for every child – and the facts that it all seems real and “happen-able”, only adds to its charm.
Author: Rudyard Kipling
This is one book that needs no introduction. It is a must-read if you really want to know why every kid who has already read the book or seen the movie fantasizes about being Mowgli (I confess to have jogged the streets with stray dogs imagining them to be wolves).
The Jungle Book is the story of Mowgli – a human child accidentally left behind in the jungle and discovered by a kind panther (Bagheera). He is raised by a wolf couple along with their own litter of cubs. Bagheera and a lovable bear (Baloo) teach Mowgli the ways of the jungle and train him in survival tactics. The man-cub grows up to be a fine young boy, and soon it is time for him to return to his own kind.
However, he still has an enemy in the jungle – Sher Khan the tiger, whom Mowgli had earlier rubbed the wrong way. Will he be able to fight off the wicked Sher Khan? Will the people in the man-village accept him? Will he be willing to give up his family and friends in the jungle? Will he be able to settle into an entirely new way of life?
Why Your Kids Will Love It
The narrative is extremely engaging and transports the reader (irrespective of age) to a fantastic world. Each character is elaborately etched out, and their antics and idiosyncrasies make them all the more affable. King Louie, the notorious and self-obsessed leader of a monkey pack and Kaa, the hissing python with sensitive sinuses provide comic relief, albeit in a slightly villainous way. So do Lucky and his gang of goofy vultures.
Children have no trouble relating to the various animal characters and the wild setting, thanks to a brilliant use of imagery and vivid descriptions of the surroundings. The Jungle Book is suitable for all ages and makes for a feel-good bedtime read-aloud for little ones, while slightly older children can enjoy it all by themselves. The text is high in literary value, but is surprisingly easy to read and comprehend.
Why You Will Love It
Though the story mostly revolves around the animal world, it brings out a whole lot of human moral values – like the value of friendship, mutual trust, courage and the strong bond that humans share with nature. Some incidences and characters clearly distinguish good from evil and the victory of the former over the latter. There are important life-lessons strewn between humorous situations and thrilling adventure.
While the first part of the series explores Mowgli’s relationship with the animal kingdom, the second part deals with his dilemmas after being adopted by a human family. Mowgli’s trials aptly represent the challenges children face in making new friends and adjusting to new surroundings.
Apart from the sheer fun of re-exploring one’s childhood fantasies, there are important parenting lessons to be learned from all this. Oh, yes – and the 1967 animated version of Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book adaptation is about as good as the book. Doordarshan used to air a television series in Hindi a long time ago – try getting your hands on this dramatized, Bollywood-ish version, which is delightful in its own way.
Copyright © Shuchi Kalra
Shuchi Kalra is a freelance writer based in India. Her works have been published several online and print publications- both in India and abroad. She also writes content for websites, businesses and portals. She is currently working on a short-story anthology.