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Just So Stories

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Librarian's Note: Alternate cover edition can be found here.

Twelve stories about animals, insects, and other subjects include How the Camel Got His Hump. The Butterfly That Stamped, and How the Alphabet Was Made..

210 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1902

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About the author

Rudyard Kipling

3,705 books2,964 followers
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was a journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist.

Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888). His poems include Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), The Gods of the Copybook Headings (1919), The White Man's Burden (1899), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature; and one critic described his work as exhibiting "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".

Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Henry James said: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known." In 1907, at the age of 41, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined.

Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907 "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

Kipling kept writing until the early 1930s, but at a slower pace and with much less success than before. On the night of 12 January 1936, Kipling suffered a haemorrhage in his small intestine. He underwent surgery, but died less than a week later on 18 January 1936 at the age of 70 of a perforated duodenal ulcer. Kipling's death had in fact previously been incorrectly announced in a magazine, to which he wrote, "I've just read that I am dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers."

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Profile Image for Manny.
Author 28 books13.4k followers
February 3, 2021
How The Kipling Got His Reputation

Once upon a time, Best Beloved, when the world was middle-aged and good Queen Victoria sat on the throne, there was a Kipling. And even though he constantly had to carry around a White Man's Burden (an object, by the way, which he had invented himself, and very proud he was of it too), he was as happy as the day is long. And he would often stop for a moment, and sing a little song he'd written, which began
Mamma Pajama rolled out of bed and ran to the po-lice station
and ended
Seein' me and Sambo down by the Rudyard
Maybe you know a song that's a bit like that, Best Beloved, and you're wondering why this one is different? But we'll get to that shortly.

So one day, the Kipling was carrying his White Man's Burden and singing his song, when, in a great flash, a Time Traveler appeared. The Kipling was amazed, for he had never seen any kind of DeLorean before, much less one capable of temporal displacement. And as soon as they had had the usual awkward conversation about which century am I in and so on and so forth (I am sure you know all about this, Best Beloved), the Kipling was of course eager to know what the wonderful future world was like. Could the Time Traveler tell him anything about it?

As it happened, the Time Traveler had a newspaper with him from the year 2009; and he showed the Kipling the front page, where, wonder of wonders, you could see a full-color daguerreotype of Queen Victoria III shaking hands with her dear friend, President John McCain of the United States of America. Behind them, there was a map of the world; and the Kipling was very pleased to see that most of it was a pretty pink, except for a piece on the left which was stars-and-stripes color. He was just about to express his appreciation, when the Time Traveler unfortunately raised his foot, and stepped on a butterfly that had landed next to him.

Now, Best Beloved, I need hardly tell you that if there is one thing a Time Traveler must never, ever, do, it is to step on a butterfly. Before their horrified eyes, everything changed. The Kipling looked round wildly: his White Man's Burden was gone!

"Where is my White Man's Burden?" he plaintively asked the Time Traveler.

"You mean your Aid to Developing Countries," said the Time Traveler in a new, nasty tone. "I don't know. But what you do have, in case you haven't noticed, is a Reputation."

And it was true! The Kipling suddenly had a horrible Reputation, which stuck to him; do what he would, he couldn't shake it off. He tried singing his song, thinking that might cheer him up, but it didn't come out the way it was supposed to. Finally, he looked again at the Time Traveler's newspaper, and could hardly believe what he saw.

"Where is Victoria III?" he whispered. "Who is this large Scotsman? And the person he's shaking hands with, the President of the United States, is an... an N-word!"

And he looked even more surprised, because he had thought he would say something rather different.

"I see you have discovered Political Correctness," said the Time Traveler in his new, nasty tone. "And, as for me, I have discovered that you are an F-word F-word."

In case you don't speak Politically Correct English, Best Beloved, I should say that those were two different F-words: the second one ended in "-ascist", and I'm afraid we don't have time to talk about the first one.

Before the Kipling could reply, the Time Traveler got back into his DeLorean, and disappeared with another flash. And try as he would, the poor Kipling could never get rid of his Reputation; and he thought it very unfair, because after all it had been the Time Traveler who had stepped on the butterfly. But life, sadly, is often like that.

Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,212 reviews1,002 followers
December 26, 2022
Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, originally published in 1902, are perennial favourites, and can be read by adults and children alike. They are known as "pourquoi" stories; in this case fantasies about the origin of individual wild animals who live in different countries. The seed of the idea lies in the story "How Fear Came," within Rudyard Kipling's "Second Jungle Book" of 1895, when Mowgli hears the story of how the tiger got his stripes. It is possible this gave the author the idea for a whole collection.

The stories are told quite colloquially, in a chatty, entertaining style. "Now this is the next tale, and it tells how the Camel got his big hump," is a typical beginning. Apart from some stylistic whimsical quirks, such as the narrator frequently calling the reader, "O my Best beloved", or commands such as, "Be quiet, O you person without any form," from the characters, they feel surprisingly modern and inventive.

The recurring theme is of a particular animal being modified from its original form by the acts of Man, who is represented as just another creature, or by some magical being. For example, in "The Beginning of the Armadillos", Stickly-Prickly Hedgehog and Slow-Solid Tortoise cunningly gradually take on aspects of the other's behaviour, in order to outwit Painted Jaguar. As the tortoise becomes more able to curl himself into a ball, and the hedgehog teaches himself how to swim, they begin to resemble their original forms less and less. In the end they are virtually indistinguishable, and the mother jaguar recommends to Painted Jaguar that he call them "Armadillo" until he finds out their proper name. The narrator comments, "So that's all right Best Beloved. Do you see?"

In "How the Camel got his Hump", the grumpy, lazy Camel emits a "Humph!" whenever he is asked to work. A djinn punishes the camel's refusal to work for three days, by saying that he must work longer between times of eating, and must live on his "Humph!" "We call it a hump now, not to hurt his feelings" comments the narrator.

For the purposes of the story, then, the animals are heavily anthropomorphised. They do however retain features of the present-day animal's behaviour, and some vocabulary from the countries where the animals live is often included.

This collection assembled in 1987, includes the most popular stories:

How the Whale got his Throat
How the Rhinoceros got his Skin
How the Camel got his Hump
How the Leopard got his Spots
The Elephants' Child
The Beginning of the Armadillos
The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo
The Cat That Walked by Himself
The Butterfly That Stamped


It is a large format book, and interspersed in the text are pen and sepia ink drawings. There are also some whole-page water-colour illustrations, all by Meg Rutherford. For the original book of 13 stories in 1902, Rudyard Kipling provided his own illustrations from wood-cuts.

The stories seem timeless, and this fact, plus their imaginative and fantastical content, goes a good way to explaining their continued popularity. They can be read aloud over and over again, and never seem to lose their whimsical charm.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,669 followers
April 19, 2012
What an infuriating book. I don't know what infuriates me more: that Kipling was a racist imperialist colonizer who believed firmly in white superiority and conveyed that in every word of these stories; or that Kipling is such a marvelous writer of the English language.

Kipling the colonizer, imperialist, racist, supremicist, had no trouble at all mugging the oral traditions of the peoples his people colonized to tell his "Just So Stories" to his Best Beloved. No trouble at all mimicking their voices with disgusting condescension, rewriting origin tales, creating new origin tales, playfully interweaving the inevitability of England's rise as though fated (as he does so deftly in How the First Letter Was Written & How the Alphabet Was Made by making his generative tale appear to be something it isn't). Kipling's Just So Stories are propaganda at its most magical. They're friendly propaganda. They're propaganda of subtlety. And Kipling was a master.

And it works so well because Kipling was so talented. Love him or hate him, I think it would be difficult to make a case that he was an untalented writer. What Kipling could do and did do repeatedly with the English language was astounding. He was a master. And his gifts were such that even today countless people I know personally, who consider themselves enlightened folk, make excuses for Kipling. The most common excuse I hear is, "He's a product of his time." But in Kipling's lifetime were men like Richard Francis Burton, Mark Twain, Roger Casement, George Orwell, and countless others, who didn't see the world, or the "white man's" place in the world the way Kipling did. Many were anti-Colonial, anti-Imperial, and not racist at all. Many of Kipling's contemporaries saw colonized peoples as victims, human beings deserving of dignity, not "sullen peoples" to be brought "toward the light." So this main excuse really doesn't hold up, though it's easy to voice because Kipling's stuff is so well written and likeable in its nastiness.

I read this to my youngest daughter, my two year old, and she seemed to be dazzled by the sound Kipling's words made coming out of my mouth. I am hoping she's too young for any of his meaning to take seed in that fertile ground. Because the seeds of Kipling bear only ugly fruit.

One last scary thought: what would the world be like if someone like Hitler had had the literary talent of Kipling. It makes me shudder.
Profile Image for Martin.
327 reviews133 followers
August 8, 2019
The Just So Stories

I was introduced to these stories at a age so early that I cannot remember when.

Later I would re-read these stories along with the Jungle Book stories, which made Kipling famous.

"How the Elephant got his truck" is his best.

I laughed when the Elephant's Child asked his relatives what the crocodile has for dinner and got spanked by them.

However I was worried when he actually met the crocodile, who bit his nose and began pulling him into the river.

The Just So Stories are good to read as a child, to read again as an adult, and then to retell to grandchildren.


Second Reading

This time I listened to the audio book version produced by Librevox and distributed for free from Loyal Books
(formerly known as Books Should Be Free)
Faithfully read with expression


To get this book now go to http://www.loyalbooks.com/book/just-s...

Enjoy!



Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,383 followers
January 2, 2018
This was an adorably sweet collection of stories, aimed at younger readers and all centring around the themes of animals. Whilst not scientifically correct in the least, this offered the reader a series of fun anecdotes about how various different animals got their defining features, such as a leopard and his spots and an elephant with his trunk.

My main source of enjoyment with this book came from its amusing usage of language. Alliterative terms, onomatopoeic phrases, odd pairings of words, and colourful imagery dotted each paragraph, making this both a highly visual read and one that would really shine when read aloud.

Whilst I did find this a fun and entertaining little read I did also find that the nature of each story began to feel a little predictable, as the anthology wore on. Whilst I understand its appeal is largely for a younger audience, I became a little disenchanted with its whimsy when I found it to retain only this one tone. Still fun and still worth a read, but perhaps to be best enjoyed when the reading of each story is spaced out.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 2 books5,414 followers
April 4, 2017
All these tales are like Aesop's fables about how various animals got their characteristic features. They are beautiful short tales - most likely derived from folk legends that Kipling heard during his time in Africa and India - but still full of humour and subtle wisdom. Unlike Kim, his pro-empire attitude does not really pollute the innocent atmosphere of these wonderful stories.
Profile Image for Tom.
392 reviews36 followers
August 28, 2008
The book that made me fall in love with storytelling. I still have my mother's hardbound edition, with marvelous color plates, published in the 20s. Kipling may have been a romantic apologist for the British Empire, but the man knew how to weave a spell in children's stories, and he can be quite playful and inventive with language. Just read the first line of any number of stories and you'll immediately understand his timeless appeal. My favorites are from The Cat that Walked by Himself -- "Here and attend and listen; for this befell and became and behappened and was, O my best beloved, when the tame animals were wild." The rhythm is absolutely hypnotic! My other favorite is from The Elephant's Trunk -- "In the high and far off times, O my best beloved, the elephant had no trunk."

These stories are just as delightful for adults as they are for children. (I'm 53 and never tire of rereading them!)
Profile Image for Zoeb.
147 reviews25 followers
March 9, 2022
It was ten years ago when I first read "Just So Stories" out of sheer boredom in my college years in the computer room of my college on the most unlikely place of all - Wikisource. The library had been reserved for some students for an examination and I could no go there and borrow the edition that lay in its old shelves. When I was finally able to go there to try my luck at borrowing it, my mind full of amusing and arresting scenes of how rhinoceroses rubbed their itching bodies to get rid of the cake crumbs that a Parsee had put in his coat or how tortoises curled up like hedgehogs and the latter swam like tortoises, I found that the book had been borrowed by somebody else. And so, till this year, when my wife gifted me this lovely, compact edition of "Just So Stories" as an anniversary gift, with that sleepy-eyed, most 'scruciating idle Camel on its cover, I had had not the fortune to discover the hilarious, heart-warming and eye-widening beauty of these stories.

East meets West, Darwinian theory meets magic and religion and the four-legged and the two-legged creatures somehow find out and learn what it is to live with each other in this world, so New and All, to be discovered in these stories. It is easy to mistake "Just So Stories" as a collection of stories aimed squarely at children - surely, they would lap up the magical and yet so believable worlds, creatures and situations that Kipling presents so candidly and with such stirringly poetic grace and they would also laugh and chortle delightfully - but just as "The Jungle Books" contains an element of adult resonance and maturity in its complex portrait of the relationship between man and beast, between one's true social standing and one's place of exile, these stories too hold enough wit, wisdom and even elements of satire to captivate a reader who might find the fantastical elements frivolous.

That is not to say that any of these stories are serious or dark. Each one of them is a lark, a delightful lark of audacious proportions and as much as I marveled at the breadth of Kipling's imagination, which keeps on expanding to unexpected limits with each story (which is why I loved the latter and bigger stories in this collection even more than the former), I was even more struck by how simple and hilarious and ingenious these stories felt. Each one is written as a moral parable and yet Kipling is cheeky enough not to thrust down his moral down our throats - he wants the reader to guffaw with laughter and good charm first and then take a lesson, if willing, from the tale. The universal appeal of these stories has not dimmed in all these generations since it was first published.

The stories are illustrated by Kipling himself and while one would expect that the accompanying pictures would be merely those to be found in any storybook, one is taken aback and almost thrilled beyond measure by how detailed, mesmerising and uninhibitedly imaginative these pictures are even in their gritty wood-cut beauty. They are enormous and eye-widening to say the least and even as Kipling's words are simple yet evocative enough in their imagination, it is in the illustrations that we witness the full depth of his ideas in writing and are frequently spellbound by their simple yet intricate beauty. That is when you are not chuckling irrepressibly like Suleiman Bin Daoud in the last and most romantic of all these stories.

Kipling has been called many things - in Orwell's scathing opinion, the prophet of imperialism - and the militant of the Empire and so on - but everyone seems to be missing out the greatest quality that truly made him famous - his absolute knack for storytelling. Back in Kipling's time, writers trusted their first-hand experiences and their instincts to write stories that still enthrall and captivate us after so many generations and as it happens, there are only a handful of writers who have been that instinctive and natural in the art of storytelling and the number has now dwindled to almost zero in today's times. Get rid of your own prejudices about Kipling, rediscover these charming stories, enjoy them for their imagination and poetry and then you will realise just how much we need more of these "Just So Stories" in today's troubling times.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,112 reviews1,316 followers
July 6, 2020
I've got a vague memory reading these short stories as a kid, a quick Google search also revealed an early 90's BBC animated series which looked familiar and probably the reason for owning thr book.

Out of the 12 stories in the collection, my favourites were the ones that I had the strongest recollections.
Like how the workshy Camel got his hump and a baby Elephant developt a trunk.
These stories are so quirky and memorable!

Coincidentally the strongest stories are in the first half of the collection as the others introduce humans into the tales and explains how both drawings and the alphabet was created.

It's always fun to have that 'oh I remember this one now' moment, whilst also being perfect length to read as bedtime stories.
It was fun revisiting them!
Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews9,415 followers
August 31, 2007
Beautiful and wonderful. Works of genius by a man who freed himself enough that he could give himself up to that genius instead of trying to make sure that it came out perfectly. As pleasing as his other works are, none I've read can match the joy, humor, simplicity, and odd truth of these.

Like children's literature should be, these stories never lose their humor or punch. Despite some redundancy with actual myths and some cases of artificially lowering complexity for children and hence growing transparent, eminently enjoyable.
Profile Image for Nick.
689 reviews89 followers
November 1, 2017
These stories were funny, imaginative, and well written. I have read several reviews that talk about Kipling being Imperialistic, condescending, and a host of other distasteful names. But here's the deal...he wrote these tales in different times and they were written for his children. I think such judgments might be slightly anachronistic; however, I do think Kipling says some things that are grating to our modern ears and sentiments. I wasn't getting the whole "white man's burden" vibe that some people were, though.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,238 reviews2,206 followers
September 8, 2017
OK, he's a racist blackguard, but Kipling does write beautifully. This was his first book I read in the original and I loved every bit of it - the stories and the pictures. Since I was too young to understand the latent racism (and there's so much of it in here, apparently) when I read it, and I have not reread it since, I will rate it based on my original reading experience - five golden stars.
Profile Image for Matthew Ted.
666 reviews543 followers
October 28, 2020
160th book of 2020.

Reading books at one point in our lives will always trigger a different feeling to reading it in another. I often wonder how many books I would despise, or love, if only I had read them a year later, or earlier, or in another country, or right at home. In a sense, the Goodreads 5-star system is flawed completely, because there is too much to take into account. I think even discussing a book can take too long: to discuss the writing, the book's merit, the writer, where we were, how we felt, and most importantly, who we were when we read it. The possibilities are endless.

So, if my mother had read Just So Stories to me as a child, would I be reading them again now and giving it 5-stars, and talking about the pages dripping with nostalgia? Possibly. That was not the case though; instead, I had to read these as a twenty-three year old adult. I very much enjoyed the first five stories, I found them sweet.

"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"

All the illustrations in the book are done by Kipling himself, and there are a great number of illustrations to be found on the Internet too, and on different edition covers. The latter story of those first five is about the elephant and his "nose". Once elephants had short noses, Kipling tells us, until one day it is pulled and pulled, stretched and stretched, by a crocodile, until, voilà, he has a trunk. Here is the illustration that appears in the book, Kipling's own.

description

The elephant does not mind though; he finds that with his new trunk he can do a great array of different and wonderfully helpful things. We do not feel bad for the elephant and his trunk. The Whale's throat is caused by eating a man once, which is an odd, and slightly humorous, tale too. I wonder if I would have laughed and clapped to them as a child. Despite the elephant's happiness, I imagine I would have still been rather upset that his nose was nearly pulled off by a crocodile.

The later stories interested me less and less. In fact, of these final stories, I only really enjoyed the final one.

"The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo"
"The Beginning of the Armadillos"
"How the First Letter was Written"
"How the Alphabet was Made"
"The Crab that Played with the Sea"
"The Cat that Walked by Himself"
"The Butterfly that Stamped"

The alphabet and letter stories were partially interesting, but mostly too long-winded and convoluted; Kipling goes about describing the way a man and his daughter try to come up with shapes that represent different sounds and animals, and before they know it, they've created the alphabet. The Armadillos story was decent, and I imagine as a child it might have been quite funny. The Crab, Cat and Kangaroo stories all ultimately lost my interest, and I think they would have done the same to a child-version of me too. The Butterfly story was quite humorous, though it does involve a rather outdated scope on the expectations of wives, and the roles of the husband. It also includes Djinns, which have always fascinated me as figures. Their involvement does bring me to a new point though.

description

We can call Kipling a great number of things now, juxtaposing things. He is often called a white-supremacist, an imperialist, a racist and sexist... He was in favour of the British Empire. On the other hand, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1907, and he turned down both the title of Poet Laureate and a knighthood. Notwithstanding his views then, he was a skilful and celebrated writer. Some of the problems that arise from this book now are how he deals with, or how he represents ideas and elements of Indian culture, through his white, English (imperialist), lens. In the Puffin Classics version of this book, for children, there are some child-friendly Q&As in the back. Under the question, "What was he like?", it says this, treating him more like an Indiana Jones figure:

"Rudyard Kipling was a bookworm. He loved to read anything and everything. He was exceedingly adventurous and loved to travel to exotic, far-off places. While working for an Indian newspaper, he spent seven years touring the vast country to find material for his articles. Rudyard was an ardent supporter of the British Empire. It was his poems and short stories of British soldiers in India that made his name as an author. However, it is his children's stories for which he will be remembered."
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
1,926 reviews205 followers
September 30, 2020
Just So Stories were my favorite bedtime stories. . . I like origin stories, where things started, why they are the way they are. . . .when my Christian parents made sure to replace these stories with the bible version of where these animals came from, I was dismayed. I liked Mr. Kipling's reasons rather than the overall "God made 'em", no further detail provided on the other side. In my secret heart of hearts I still hold tighter to Mr. K.

I get that his world view is out of order now, and not PC with today's sensitivity standards, but I'm not for throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

It is the repetition, and the sing-song rhythm of the stories that seals the deal for me. . . reminding me of Edward Lear, Eugene Field, RL Stevenson and Lewis Carroll. This was a listen for me, and it was a treat to have Geoffrey Palmer as narrator - kudos to that skillful man!

5 stars: One each for the 5 types of meter - iamb, trochee, spondee, dactyl (mmm, love the dactyls) and anapest!
Profile Image for Gastjäle.
339 reviews38 followers
April 30, 2022
A breezy and heart-lightening collection of inventive language and well-incorporated illustrations. Kipling is great at poking fun at logic and descriptions by twisting the first in a credibly juvenile fashion and blowing the latter out of proportion both in terms of diction and repetition. The glued-on attributes such as "more-than-oriental-splendour" and "infinite-resource-and-sagacity" were simply hysterical.

The raw material of Kipling's stories is inventive and endearing, and his execution is clever yet child-like mysterious, making this a light-hearted feast for all.
Profile Image for Nadin Adel.
733 reviews69 followers
April 7, 2018
They always say: "Never give a child a book you won't read for yourself" and I agree. I will be reviewing as long as I go through this book, so here we are:

>> How the Camel Got his Hump?
A dreadful tale about a camel who is lazy that as a result, a genie makes humps for the camel, end of story. This is dreadful for a number of reasons:

1- The camel has those humps which are a miracle in its essence. The camels use it to feed and nourish because they are meant to live in harsh environments of scarce resources of food and water. That shows the greatness of The God, Allah, who created it in such perfection for us to get to know him. So they are not a curse upon it by a lame genie to go by for him and his generations.

2- The idea that is inspired through the tale, the idea of "The First Sin" that is inherited by the generations all along till the end no matter how the generations behave. This in not just and idea for a children story telling, in the matter of fact, it is to induce this kind of mindset to make sure that the first sin is of no use to relapse it and to be forgiven, which endorse them into practicing bad deeds and encountering diverse sins and wrong doings.

>> How the Rhinoceros got his Skin?
The Parsee wrong doing implications is held by the Rhinos from then and forever, another bad behavior inducing in the idea of someone claiming the results of our bad behavior.

>> The Crab That Played with the Sea

This story was the most disappointing of the whole "Just So Stories". It demonstrates the Creator of the universe as a magician!!

It also shows that the Creator is not fully aware of what goes around. Were some of the creatures are missing up with his creation! At the end of the story, the wrong doer compromises the Creator/magician, not to mention that the Creator/magician doesn't want the creatures to live and gain full strength, then they might strengthen on him! How nonsense!!

At the very end, the wrong doer also says that the Creator/magician didn't pay him much attention like that he paid to son of Adam. That's why he missed up! Afterwards, the Creator/magician confess of this truth!

Isn't that somehow a demonstration of Satan (Devil) and mankind? Don't you think that the writer is trying to reach a message to readers? This is how atheists are made, thinking that their creator is unfair, and that Iblis is innocent!

Please reread children stories and think of the story essence and the messages coming through before ever handing it to a kid.

Hope that helps.

>> The Butterfly that Stamped

Some of the facts are almost true. However, the rest could be Israelis - إسرائيليات - or from Rudyard deep imaginations that are most likely from the rest of his stories.



P.S.: Just found out while reading about WWI through the book World War I, that Rudyard Kipling's son, John Kipling, was a soldier in the British army. He wrote this book around 10 years before engaging in the war. And he lost his son in the process. Rudyard and his wife waited for their son to return, as he was among the missing and though his body was never retrieved.


Nadin Adel
30/11/2015
Profile Image for WhatIReallyRead.
662 reviews488 followers
August 15, 2020
I think I enjoyed this book more than any other works by Kipling. The children's short stories were light, fun, imaginative, and entertaining. There was also a poem associated with each story - I liked these as well. Simple rhymes and tempos. Good stuff.

There were, of course, moments where I went "so at the time this was considered appropriate for children, huh?". For instance, there was a story about a child elephant that asks his relatives innocent questions, and each beats him up hard instead of replying - for no reason. So then the little elephant finds a way to beat them up in return, and he does. End of story.

Profile Image for pierlapo quimby.
500 reviews30 followers
April 23, 2019
Queste storie sono proprio così, inutile domandarsi il perché di questo o quello, è questione di autorevolezza del narratore, la stessa inossidabile autorevolezza di cui si serve il genitore quando, nel raccontare alla figlioletta la favola più incredibile spacciandola per realmente accaduta, assume quel finto cipiglio serioso che soffoca sul nascere ogni possibile eccezione di inverosimiglianza.
Profile Image for GoldGato.
1,117 reviews40 followers
September 11, 2020
I am a Kipling fan. There, I said it. Today it is not a good thing to say that, but I don't care. Revisionists be damned.

However, I just couldn't get into the stories here, which really aren't all that bad. They are clever and fun, to be certain. In particular, I loved How The Leopard Got His Spots and The Beginning Of The Armadillos. True to life was The Elephant's Child, reminding me of the baby elephants I always see at the zoos, endlessly driving their parents insane with their crazy antics.

But perhaps it was the specific publication itself, a 1952 re-issue that has a few of the wonderful colour plates from the original but then scrunches the B&W Kipling illustrations into such un-recognizable blocks of goop that I have no idea what they are supposed to be. So, four stars for the stories, two stars for the Doubleday & Company botch-up...that is a safe three stars.

But, I do love my Kipling.

Book Season = Year Round (whys and hows)
Profile Image for Amanda.
1,339 reviews33 followers
March 15, 2008
Loved all the stories, but my personal favorite was about Elephant's Child. Sometimes 'satiable curiosity doesn't kill you; it gets you a very practical appendage with which you can spank your bossy Relatives and hove them into a wasp's nest. And let's face it, O Best Beloved, we've all had that impulse.
Profile Image for Thibault Busschots.
Author 3 books25 followers
November 3, 2022
Very creative, clever and well written little children’s stories like “how the camel got his hump.” They’re not scientifically correct, it’s just some good old fashioned fun.
Profile Image for denudatio_pulpae.
1,291 reviews19 followers
September 1, 2020
Skąd się wziął garb wielbłąda? Dlaczego lampart ma cętki? Skąd słoń ma taką długą trąbę? Jak wyglądał pierwszy list napisany przez człowieka i jak powstało abecadło? Odpowiedzi na te pytania na pewno zainteresują większość dzieci, ale dla mnie-staruszki była to średnio pasjonująca lektura, już bardziej podobała mi się ponowna lektura "Księgi dżungli". Opowiastkę "Kot, który zawsze chadzał własnymi drogami" czytałam jako dziecko i wtedy byłam nią zaciekawiona, pewnie z tymi historiami byłoby tak samo, ale akurat tej książki nie miałam w swojej dziecięcej biblioteczce.

Takie sobie te bajeczki, takie sobie.
6/10
Profile Image for Amanda.
840 reviews344 followers
October 12, 2018
While I didn't love all the messages of these stories, on the whole there were delightful. I loved the illustrations and their explanations and how every story ended with a poem. The writing style was so much fun and is amazing to read aloud. This was such a pleasant surprise!
Profile Image for Jim.
179 reviews32 followers
Read
June 6, 2020
Read this for the first time since I was a kid, when I received it as a gift from my aunt and uncle.

Kipling published this in 1902 in honor of his daughter who had died the year before, and who he had originally written the stories for. You can see versions of her spread throughout this book.

My favorite stories were “How the Whale Got His Throat,” and “The Cat That Walked By Himself.”
Profile Image for miledi.
114 reviews
July 15, 2020


Come ha fatto il leopardo ad ottenere le sue macchie? Perché il cammello si è ritrovato con la gobba e l’elefante con la proboscide invece di un semplice naso? E ancora: come ebbe origine l’alfabeto? Queste sono solo alcune delle domande importanti a cui viene data una risposta in queste storie bislacche, ricche di fantasia, inventiva e amore. Per non parlare poi delle bellissime illustrazioni che corredano ogni racconto, eseguite da Kipling stesso.

Un libro per bambini? Forse sì, ma non solo per loro, perché tutti abbiamo bisogno di un toccasana per lo spirito. E poi non vorrete perdervi l’occasione di conoscere “il gatto che se ne andava da solo”, vero? … Ma voi siete matti!

Profile Image for Girl and Books.
265 reviews
March 1, 2022
O Best Beloved,

The world is far from new and all,
And you can say whatever you want about Kipling —
Nowadays.
But wasn't it clever of him?
For the hell of an imaginative writer
That he is.
Profile Image for Luisa Knight.
2,718 reviews650 followers
September 5, 2018
This book is quoted and mentioned so often in other children's classics that I figured I better read it quickly before someone pulled the trump card on me: "Oh, so you review children's books but haven't read 'Just So Stories.' My, my."

Of course I don't know of anyone that would do that, but I really did want to read it. I'm glad I did.

It is my first book of Kipling's to read and at least with this book, I found his humor delightful. His creativity is both clever and hilarious. At times, though, I did find it to be a touch long and drawn out; like a joke that, even though you know where it's headed and think it's funny, takes a smidge too long in getting to the punch. At least I thought so. And I sped through the illustration descriptions as I found them too detailed.

With that in mind, these short stories are great. They're all explanations really of how things came to be. The comical versions, that is. The type that you could see a dad replying with when he is putting his child to bed. "Well you see, this is how the rhinoceros got his wrinkly skin ..." Which is actually how these stories came to be - Kipling telling his daughter stories.

I particularly liked 'How the Rhinoceros got his Skin' and 'How the First Letter was Written.' And I also got a good chuckle out of Kipling's explanation of how we came to say, "Minding your P's and Q's!"

Ages: 7+

Cleanliness: There is genie/fairy tale like magic scattered a few times throughout the book. A man is described as wearing nothing but a hat. "For goodness' sake" is said twice. 'Thank goodness." "My gracious" is said twice. "Negro." "Pooh." Mentions a pipe and tobacco. A folktale story has several gods for characters in it. Mentions a Neolithic man and there's a story about earlier people that lived in caves. "Stupid" and "idiot" are used. An illustration shows a little girl with no clothing - no details. A butterfly tells a lie.

**Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know just how clean it is or isn't. I also have Clean Guides (downloadable PDFs) which enable you to clean up your book before reading it!

Visit my website!
Profile Image for Jamie Collins.
1,418 reviews261 followers
October 1, 2014
These are such fun to read out loud, and I particularly like the descriptions of the illustrations.

My favorites are:

"How the Whale Got His Throat", featuring the small 'Stute Fish and the mariner of infinite-resource-and-sagacity wearing his suspenders (which you must not forget, Best Beloved).

"The Elephant's Child", who was full of 'satiable curiosity and who escapes from the croccodile with the aid of the Bi-Coloured Python Rock Snake on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River.
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