Review: “Just So Stories” by Rudyard Kipling

Twelve tales enveloped in magic dramatize and explain unusual traits of certain animals and enigmatic skills of humans. Rudyard Kipling develops his animal characters in Just So Stories with recognizable human flaws, which are eventually punished by a higher power.

For example, How the Camel Got His HumpThe Elephant’s Child, and The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo justify corporal punishment by a celestial being for conceit, arrogance, sloth, and over-curiosity.  Each vice leads to remorse, but each animal actually benefits from the new trait it accumulates due to its obstinacy.  Kipling’s settings are also as diverse as his storylines, ranging from Africa to Australia. How the Leopard Got His Spots and The Beginning of the Armadillos are two stories that visualize how creatures may have adjusted their traits and their habits to harmonize with their environment.

The beginning of domesticated animals and the peculiar independence of the cat are the main points in The Cat That Walked by Himself.  However, How the First Letter Was Written and its “sequel,” How the Alphabet Was Made, focus on the introduction of written language to the human race.  The author demonstrates his unique and creative views on the topic of evolution in Just So Stories, though it appears to be satirical at times.  Nevertheless, Kipling maintains the spirit of youth and childish wonder that he perceives in nature.

Original review: Kipling answers some of nature’s puzzling questions,


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