Rudyard Kipling, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mowgli, Kotick, Rikki Tikki, Bagheera, Nag and so many more come from the one and only, Rudyard Kipling. 

Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, and died on January 18, 1936. He lived to be 70 years old. He was born in Bombay, India. One of his most famous books is called The Jungle Book. In addition to his The Jungle Book he wrote other short stories. For example, he wrote about how the camel got its distinctive hump, how the rhinoceros got its armor-like skin, and many more. I thought that these stories were different and very imaginative; whether it was about a lazy and arrogant camel or if it was about an ill-mannered and rude rhino, I could still enjoy Kipling’s style of writing in The Just-So Stories as I would in his other stories.

Kipling has many awesome stories but the one that I read and worked on for the longest time was The Jungle Book. This is a thrilling tale that you will learn about later on in this essay. Right now I would like to talk about some of the other stories that Kipling had wrote. He wrote origin stories which can also be known as pourquoi tales. Pourquoi tales are stories that explain how something is created (The Just-So Stories). These aren’t just some old tales and myths, they are full of imagination and were something that I had not seen before.

I have written a lot about Rudyard’s stories. At first, I thought it would be complicated because his stories are not the easiest to understand. The Jungle Book is more of a sixth to tenth-grade book than an elementary school book. With that being said, it might even be hard to read for sixth graders. It wasn’t hard for me to read it but the hard part was understanding it and being able to write a couple of paragraphs on it. That is why the re-reading is so helpful. When I read this book at first it was a hard-to-understand book. You really have to ask yourself questions and reread most of the book. I would constantly read a chapter and then read it again two to three more times to make sure I really understood what is going on. But the constant re-reading was definitely worth it. The book was awesome and full of adventure and action. It helps you understand what is going on in the book and gives you the ability to write more and more. Going back to writing about his stories is complicated. It does get easier as you read more and more of his writing because then you can understand his own unique way of writing. In the beginning, I had no clue where to start. I would reread the question multiple times and then try to remember reading that in the story. If I couldn’t remember I would have to go back and sometimes I would end up reading the entire chapter over again. Although once I had a general idea of what I was supposed to write, the words started to flow through me. Then there was so much to say about his writing.

First edition!

The Jungle Book is a fascinating book about a child named Mowgli who is raised in a jungle with all types of animals. Mowgli needs to return to the man’s village because the tiger Shere Khan has returned and put his life in danger. The book is about his adventures throughout his journey across the jungle. Mowgli makes many new friends and learns lots of life lessons. For example, Mowgli must learn the “Law of the Jungle” because he was raised by wolves and needs to act like one. The Law of the Jungle is a rule that all the creatures in the jungle must follow. If anything at all were to happen in the jungle that bent or involved the Law, then it would immediately call for a serious council meeting.   


For the man-cub, Mowgli, a special meeting was hosted. They decided the fate of the man-cub. The panther, Bagheera states that “the Law of the Jungle says that if there is a doubt which is not a killing matter in regard to a new cub, the life of that cub may be bought at a price. And the Law does not say who may or may not pay that price”. Basically, to summarize this very complicated explanation, Bagheera is saying that if the council isn’t debating whether to kill the cub or not, then the cub may be bought. But the Law doesn’t say who should buy the cub and the price that it pays. At the end of the meeting, the wolves adopt Mowgli and are ready to raise and defend him as their own. This is the Law of Jungle. The animal that takes Mowgli in does need to be ready to face any challenges and consequences that follow. Soon enough, Mowgli learns about the Law of the Jungle from Bagheera and Baloo. He recites the tongues of all creatures. For the hunting people, it is “We be of one blood, ye and I”. “A perfectly indescribable hiss,” for the snakes, and for the birds, it was the same but “with the Kite’s whistle at the end of the sentence.” He knew all of the tongues.

Even if he knew all of the languages, in the jungle, there is a very specific law that is extremely important. It is the law that forbids every beast to eat man, except when he is killing to show his children how to really kill. The reason behind this is that “if a creature kills one man, more men will come with guns and hunt them down till extinction, or at least scatter them to the winds, with gongs and rockets and torches.” 

Mowgli was just a man-cub but soon later realized that even if he did not like the Law of the Jungle he must follow it. Mowgli had always wanted to learn how to hunt and kill animals for his own food but could only hunt when he was old enough. Mowgli thought he could kill any animal in the jungle until Bagheera told him that he must never touch cattle because “thou art strong enough to kill; thou must never kill or eat any cattle young or old. That is the Law of the Jungle.” Mowgli was heartbroken by his message but agreed. Mowgli never touched any cattle in his life. 

One story that I particularly enjoyed was the story of Rikki Tikki Tavi. This story was also turned into a film like The Jungle Book except it wasn’t nearly as long. Rikki Tikki Tavi is about the eponymous mongoose, who is taken in by a family who found him on the ground nearly dead. They cared for Rikki and provided him with food and shelter. Rikki wanted to do the same so he protected the family from the horrible cobras, Nag and Nagaina. They are so horrible that they planned on killing the family. Nagaina hisses to her husband “Go in quietly, and remember that the big man who killed Karait is the first one to bite. Then come out and tell me, and we will hunt for Rikki-Tikki together.” So the snakes were planning on killing the father first, then the family, and then Rikki-Tikki himself.

            “But are you sure that there is anything to be gained by killing the people?” said Nag. It seems like he might not be as rotten as Nagaina after all.

            “Everything. When there were no people in the bungalow, did we have any mongoose in the garden? So long as the bungalow is empty, we are king and queen of the garden; and

remember that as soon as our eggs in the melon bed hatch (as they may tomorrow), our

children will need room and quiet.”

            “I had not thought of that,” said Nag. “I will go, but there is no need that we should hunt

for Rikki-Tikki afterward. I will kill the big man and his wife, and the child if I can, and come away quietly. Then the bungalow will be empty, and Rikki-Tikki will go.” Well, I guess I was wrong about him not being as rotten as his wife. This is horrible! I mean what is going to happen? If you want to find out you should read it. It is a very exciting tale.

            The story is about how Rikki Tikki returns the favor to his new family that had saved his life. The film is very much exactly like the story. I love Chuck Jones, one of the chief 20th-century animators, painters, and directors.

He was not only known for producing Tom & Jerry episodes (34 of them) but also for being in the creative team for the following unforgettable characters: Porky Pig,

Wile E. Coyote,

Road Runner, Daffy Duck,

and the famous Bugs Bunny. I praise him for his creative mind and awesome skills, making all of the characters in the films and the dialogue exactly the same as the Kipling story. Again, his film reminded me a lot of the Tom & Jerry episodes. No surprise because Chuck Jones also made Tom & Jerry. Did I tell you that? Whoops. I had hoped that Chuck Jones or someone else had decided to make more of Kipling’s books into films. I thought, wow if they do another one, the one that I really am looking forward to seeing is “The White Seal”. Turns out there is one! And better yet… Chuck Jones made it!  This one was less like the short story but still had lots of similarities and the concept was the same. Chuck Jones really makes the character come to life by animating and narrating it in a fun way: for instance, when Rikki does get involved with the cobras, then attacks them and gets stuck in a snake hole with Nagaina, twisting and turning in a big spurt of dust… what will happen next? Go and find out. 


I have a club called the Saving Endangered Animals Lovingly club. I am very

passionate about animals and make it a goal to try and save endangered ones. One of Kipling’s

stories was calledThe White Seal”, which really reminded me of my club. This connected with

my club because first of all, it was about a seal and my club’s name is S.E.A.L. (for obvious

reasons). Secondly, the story itself was about how a seal is trying to find a safe place for all of

the other seals. This really connected with me because that is what I am trying to do for

endangered animals.

The most memorable part of “The White Seal” for me was when Sea Catch (Kotick the white seal’s dad) said to Matkah (Kotick’s mother) that “there has never been a white seal before” meaning that Kotick was a unique seal. He was not liked by his father very much because he was different. He was a rare white seal. The story goes on and after hearing (in the movie, and seeing in the book) that humans are the main enemy to any seal, that the humans kill the seals, Kotick decided that he wanted to go on a mission. He wanted to find a place where no human could ever hurt or find a seal. He searched until he came across a wise walrus. The walrus told him to look for the Sea Pig. The only way he would know what the Sea Pig looked like was because “he is the only creature uglier than a walrus”.

Knowing that there might be someone that could help Kotick, he was determined now more than ever to find such a perfect place for his fellow seals. Kotick asked everyone he came across if they knew anything about such a thing called the Sea Pig. Not one living creature he asked knew until his fellow whale friend showed him the way to the Sea Pig. When Kotick finally met the Sea Pig he waited until he could be led into the place where no human could enter. After many days and weeks he is led to the secret entrance and Kotick followed Sea Pig underwater, through tunnels, and out into the open. Kotick saw a sandy beach, perfect water, and high sides made of land that formed a wall. This place to me looked like an asteroid that hit a piece of land and created a massive crater. When Kotick gets back to his home and excitedly tells everyone about this new amazing place… guess what? No one believes him. After years of searching and after finally finding a safe place no seal would come to because they wouldn’t believe the white seal, he gets into a fight with all of the alpha males and easily defeats them all. He has won and now every seal will follow him to the secret hidden island. Now thanks to Kotick the white seal, all seals have a safe place to stay and won’t be hunted by anymore of those terrible, horrible, disgusting, cruel humans. Kotick has succeeded! It makes me feel really good. It is always nice to read the end part of a book when a character who is having a hard time fitting in, turns out to save the whole seal population.

            “Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips.” An immediate picture sprung up into my mind about a large black and grayish father-looking wolf who when yawning shows all of his large, pointy, yellow teeth. The wolf is spreading his long paws first right then left, extending his claws then retreating in a stretching manner. These are the kinds of descriptive images that appear in my mind from just one sentence. It’s amazing. 

If there are multiple books written by the same author and have similar settings then I would wonder whether they could all be connected. For example, Rikki Tikki Tavi has some scenes where it takes place in the jungle. Could that jungle be the same one that Mowgli had lived his life in? Who knows? Maybe Kaa (the snake in The Jungle Book) is related to Nagand Nagaina (the snake from Rikki Tikki Tavi). The human village that is always talked about in The Jungle Book could be the same village that Teddy and his family live in. Kipling stretches out his setting so that they include characters that have nothing to do with the ones who appear earlier.

            Kipling’s place names are inventive – however, he uses real place names as well. In The White Seal, he uses “Novastoshnah Beach (an actual place – try pronouncing it!) as the beach that all of the seals start off on at the beginning of the story. He also uses the term “Sticky Water” which has a completely different meaning than you would think but is a very important place (the Equator). “Juan Fernandez is another beach that the white seal was on. In addition, Kotick was given instructions that he was to find and talk to the Sea Vitch who was on “Walrus Islet”. He added humor and made the animals talk as if they were humans. This is a tool that he uses in all the stories that I have read.

I think that Rudyard Kipling is one of the best authors that I have read. He really adds detail and imagery to his characters as well as the settings, comes up with creative names for places in all of his books, and finally connects to me through animal writing. For me, I think it is rare to find a book that’s for teens and is about animals. I am really grateful that I have been shown the amazing author: Rudyard Kipling.

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