TITLE: Into The Jungle
AUTHOR: Katherine Rundell
PUBLISHER: Walker Books
GENRE: Middle Grade, Adventure, Short Stories, Retelling
RATING: 4/5 Stars
This wise and witty companion to Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 classic is likewise a series of connected stories about the man-cub Mowgli and his adventures among the animals in the Indian jungle.
It includes all the original favourites like Baloo and Bagheera and gives female characters, like Mother Wolf, a more prominent role in Mowgli’s upbringing.
The timely theme of the possibility of understanding and empathy across species, cultures, and genders will resonate with contemporary readers.
What I Liked:
- These stories were a joy to read. While the original stories focus on Mowgli's tale, these are about the animal characters that are beloved to most who are fans of Kipling's stories. Bagheera, Mother Wolf, Kaa and Baloo each get their own origin story, and I really liked them all. Especially Baloo's (and Kaa's too, surprisingly)!
- There are lessons to be learnt from this book too. Particularly about empathy and understanding between different cultures and races. And I liked that the final story allowed us to see that Mowgli had learnt from them too, while retaining the brash, confident personality we know from 'The Jungle Books'.
What I Disliked:
- I wish there had been more stories than there was. For example, though we got to see a little of Shere Khan's past, I would have liked for him to have a story to himself. Nevertheless, this was only a minor gripe.
Rundell did such a wonderful job with this, and I loved that she stuck to the original short story format. I liked the illustrations a lot too, and thought that Kristjana S. Williams did some fantastic work! I highly recommend this read for any fans of the films (animated or live action) or original books, as this expands and reimagines Mowgli's world fantastically.