Just So Stories
Written originally for his own children, Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories have continued to delight generations of youngsters since they were first published in 1902. The thirteen stories collected in this book are meant for very young children, but they engage older kids and adults too with their charming conversational style and simple plot lines.
These stories are typical examples of the “origin” story, where children are provided with imaginative rather than practical explanations for the “why” “what” “how” “where” “who” “when” questions of childhood. The Just So Stories were tales that Kipling would tell his own daughter who tragically died in infancy of pneumonia.
An early forerunner of these stories can be found in The Second Jungle Book in the chapter, “How Fear Came” where the story of how the tiger got its stripes is narrated to Mowgli. All the fables in the Just So Stories follow a similar theme. They relate how a particular creature is altered from an original form into its present appearance either by a magical spirit or a human being. So the reader encounters wonderful and fantastical reasons why The Whale Got Its Throat, The Camel Got Its Hump, The Rhinoceros Got Its Skin, How the Alphabet was Made, and so on.
Written in a pretend grand style, as though the narrator was recounting a great and important myth, the stories are studded with fabulous made up words and turns of phrase that catch the reader's attention. Comic exaggeration, wordplay, lots of spontaneous, funny poems, juxtapositions of everyday events with the fantastical tales, amusing and entertaining “explanations” and a short poem at the beginning of each story serve to highlight Kipling's prodigious story telling talents.
The reader is always called “Best Beloved” which adds to the personal touch, reminding us of the original listeners of these stories, who were Kipling's own children. Some of the stories may seem politically incorrect to modern day readers, but they must be read in the context in which they were written and could in fact become a starting point for discussions on such issues as race, gender etc. with your own children.
Download mp3 files for each chapter for this book in one zip file.