Review: The Jungle Books

This month Disney’s giving us a remake of its 1967 movie The Jungle Book. I don’t know when or why Disney decided to take its classic films and make them live-action, but after Maleficent, which I hated, and Cinderella, which I liked, I am ready to watch The Jungle Book in a couple of days, and Beauty and the Beast next year.

So, I bought The Jungle Books last August, but for whatever reason I forgot it on my shelf. Then I saw the trailer for the new movie, and I got way too excited. I enjoyed the music tremendously, so I re-watched over a dozen times, I watched the original one again, and I finally picked up the book.

I grew up watching virtually every adaptation of The Jungle Book, including the non-Disney, live-action versions, and pretty much all of them told the same story: Mowgli is a man-cub adopted by wolves, who grows up in the jungle and who has to return to the man village because Shere Khan the tiger has return and wants to eat him.

When I bought the book, I was surprised because not only did the title read “books” instead of just “book”, but also because it was not just one story. As it turns out, Rudyard Kipling published two Jungle Books, one in 1894 and one in 1895, that contain several stories.

The stories aren’t in chronological order, and they don’t always have the same characters, but they all include a moral message and a text at the end that can be a song, a poem or a legend. Mowgli is the main character of eight stories, while most of the others have animals as protagonists.

I must say I liked the book in general, but there were a few stories that felt somewhat slow. The Mowgli stories are definitely the most interesting ones, since they let the reader see the evolution of the character throughout the years. The Mowgli from the beginning is very different from the Mowgli from the last chapters. At first Mowgli is young and innocent, like the one Disney portrayed, but his experiences in and out of the jungle turn him into a more serious and sometimes even cruel character. Other characters that weren’t what I expected were Baloo and Bagheera. In the movie, Baloo is easy going and is only looking for the bare necessities, and Bagheera is the uptight one; in the book, Baloo is the teacher of the Law of the Jungle, serious, responsible and strict one, and Bagheera is the strong, impulsive and fun character.

All in all it was a good book, and I recommend it to those who enjoy adventure books, short stories and literary classics.

  My edition:  Paperback, published in 2008 by Oxford World's Classics.
My edition: Paperback, published in 2008 by Oxford World’s Classics.
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