________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 6. . . .October 11, 2013


Just So Stories: For Little Children. Volume One.

Rudyard Kipling. Illustrated by Ian Wallace.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2013.
87 pp., hardcover & ePub, $19.95 (hc.), $16.95 (ePub).
ISBN 978-1-55498-212-7 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-214-1 (ePub).

Subject Heading:
Animals-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 6 / Ages 5-11.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

**** /4



In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things with it. But there was one Elephant-a new Elephant-an Elephant's Child-who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions. And he lived in Africa, and he filled all Africa with his 'satiable curtiosities. He asked his tall aunt, the Ostrich, why her tail-feathers grew just so, and his tall aunt the Ostrich spanked him with her hard, hard, claw. He asked his tall uncle, the Giraffe, what made his skin spotty, and his tall uncle, the Giraffe, spanked him with his hard, hard hoof. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity! He asked his broad aunt the Hippopotamus, why her eyes were red, and his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, spanked him with her broad, broad hoof; and he asked his hairy uncle, the Baboon, why melons tasted just so, and his hairy uncle, the Baboon, spanked him with his hairy, hairy paw. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity. He asked questions about everything that he saw, or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched, and all his uncles and his aunts spanked him. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity! ( From “The Elephant's Child”.)


These deliciously exaggerated and fanciful stories pretend to explain the origins of various natural phenomena. Written by the famed Rudyard Kipling, they were first published as the Just So Stories in 1902, three years after the tragic death of one of Kipling’s daughters for whom he had created them as bed-time stories to be told "Just So." The first volume in this new edition includes How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump, How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, How the Leopard Got His Spots, The Elephant's Child and The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo. The remainder will appear in a second volume in 2014.

internal art     Wallace, a well-known award-winning illustrator, has masterfully captured and intensified the power of Kipling's creations with his own impressive illustrations. Four media (watercolour, pencil crayon, pastel pencil and chalk ) are used in various combinations with a predominant colour for each story depending on the environmental setting of the tale. Mainly full page plates and occasional horizontal landscapes, the pictures are rich and as magically fanciful as the stories themselves, full of details that enhance the whimsy and playfulness of the yarns. Charming motifs that open and close each chapter were inspired by decoration seen by the artist on a leather trunk owned by Kipling. In an enriching addendum, the illustrator describes how the stories became meaningful to him, as well as his thought processes, in determining the style of illustration to be used for each very different tale.

      The playful vocabulary and rich humour of these stories, as well as their innate rhythm and poetry, make these stories as magical and appealing today as they have been for generations. This new edition of Kipling's time honoured stories, so ably complemented by Wallace's artwork, will bring a fresh awareness of the stories to today's generation of children. A great read-aloud for library programmes, classrooms and family story-times that children aged five and up will thrill to.

Highly Recommended.

Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian from Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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