Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Wordsworth Editions (1993)
Category(ies): Fiction (Children's)
It wouldn't be unfair to wonder whether Kipling's Just So Stories are past it. After all, they were published at the very beginning of the 20th Century, and it's now over a century later. But these whimsical tales, which he made up for his own children, have survived despite the sometimes leery view modern commentators take of Kipling, often seeing him as the apologist for Empire. These stories, however, show a much more rounded figure than any mere unthinking racist could be. Although there is one place where modern sensibilities will be alarmed (the Ethiopian who is named Sambo and who refers to himself as a Nigger), these words were not yet (as far as I am aware) in disrepute when the stories were written. In general, the various peoples he depicts are shown as sympathetic and intelligent (for example, the Farsi who causes the Rhinoceros’s skin to wrinkle).
Putting aside Kipling potential political incorrectness, what comes through is Kipling's language. These are stories told by a master poet, meant to be read aloud. And although the language is aimed at young children, he also plays with long words — I can quite imagine his children piping up 'Daddy, what does "Neolithic" mean?'.
Oh, and this copy was a magnificant 97p. My verdict? Still good, after all these years.