Into the Jungle
written by Katherine Rundell
illustrated by Kristjana S Williams
published by Macmillan Children’s Books
240 pages in hardback, audiobook available, paperback coming soon!
Forget Disney, explore Mowgli’s world for yourself
I have to admit that I had already read, enjoyed and written about Into the Jungle months, possibly a year ago. But there’s not a lot of point me writing in my notebook without sharing my thoughts, is there?
That’s not going to get a lovely book into the hands of readers who’ll love it. So here goes.
A Reader’s perspective:
Into The Jungle currently comes as a gift hardback with foiled cover, a ribbon marker and colour illustrations throughout by Kristjana S Williams. It’s beautifully produced, and aimed at generous souls buying for the whole family to share. The illiustrations are gorgeous, cleverly created from period illustrations collaged together and hand-coloured. Their lushness really gives a sense of the 1894 Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – also published by Macmillan.
NB If you’d like to see more of the lavish illustrations, please visit the review on the Booktrust website.
The sequence of linked stories inside happily avoids the imperialism of the original. Read the Author’s Note if you’re at all dubious about approaching Kipling in today’s world. Rightly, Katherine Rundell gives due consideration to the orginal source material (which will please aficionados) but the overall effect is far more modern in outlook and style.
There’s plenty of broad physical humour here – ideal for the younger end of the suggested age-range of 5-9. The sequence simply invites reading aloud with its separate tales for Mother Wolf, Bagheera, Baloo, Kaa and Mowgli himself.
The scene setting is convincing and matter-of-fact – much like Kipling’s own tone. I should point out some conflict will be unsuited to the squeamish, and the author is unafraid of ‘difficult’ vocabulary choices. Discussion may well follow!
It’s not cutesy, there are no song-and-dance numbers – and it’s all the better for that. I am happy to report that a papeback edition will be out this October in time for Christmas – so perhaps my delay was fortuitous.
A Writer and Editor’s suggestions
- Read this to see how a portmanteau structure of related short stories can be done – and not be a set of ghost stories! (Much as I love them.)
- Read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman for an interesting comparison of how to riff on Kipling’s characters.
- Observe how beautiful illustrations can be deployed in fiction to everyone’s delight. They should be available to all readers, not just in picturebooks.