The tiger's roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf
shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like
two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere
"And it is I, Raksha [The Demon], who answers. The man's cub
is mine, Lungri--mine to me! He shall not be killed. He shall
live to run with the Pack and to hunt with the Pack; and in the
end, look you, hunter of little naked cubs--frog-eater--
fish-killer--he shall hunt thee! Now get hence, or by the
Sambhur that I killed (I eat no starved cattle), back thou goest
to thy mother, burned beast of the jungle, lamer than ever thou
camest into the world! Go!"
Father Wolf looked on amazed. He had almost forgotten the
days when he won Mother Wolf in fair fight from five other wolves,
when she ran in the Pack and was not called The Demon for
compliment's sake. Shere Khan might have faced Father Wolf, but
he could not stand up against Mother Wolf, for he knew that where
he was she had all the advantage of the ground, and would fight to
So, yeah, definitely do not go into reading this, thinking that you will be reliving some Disney nostalgia - much like the Grimm brothers' rendition of Cinderella or the original The Hunchback of Notre Dame, you will see that Disney has hacked and grown vestigial limbs where there were none before, when you read this book.
If I have enjoyed the Children's Lit class for any major reason (besides the chance to read more children's literature than I have in over ten years) it is because we have had a chance to look at both the Jungle Book as well as Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid" and what the Disney studio did with the material. A major focus in our study of the differences between the animated feature film that Disney made and the Kipling novel is in the song, "The Bare Necessities", very famous and sung my Baloo.
It is in the text of the book itself that we get this description of Baloo - "...Baloo, the sleepy brown bear who teaches the wolf cubs the Law of the Jungle: old Baloo, who can come and go where he pleases because he eats only nuts and roots and honey." Indeed Baloo is portrayed in the original text as an aging and very intelligent teacher of the cubs of Akela's wold pack, teaching them the most crucial of the Laws of the Jungle. This becomes very apparent in the second chapter, when Baloo goes to great pains to teach Mowgli the Master Words of the different peoples of the jungle, warns Mowgli that he mus not associate with the Bandar-log - the monkeys.
In the book, Baloo is basically a tutor, a scholar of the ways of the jungle. Hmm, and just how does the Disney studio take this character, in the form of song?
- Not so much "stick in the mud" teacher who is obsessed over the safety of our protagonist anymore, more of a... I dunno, hippy-type who finds Mowgli to be a bit of a novelty.
- The Jungle Book differs from the Disney "adaptation" in many many other aspects as well. without going too much into it - well, basically, everything you could imagine, with a few pieces here or there, is utterly different. It would be easier to list what is the same than what is different - and here we get that Mowgli was raised by wolves, watched over (not taught, mind you) by both Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther and hunted, as though he is a white whale, by Shere Khan the lamed tiger.
- Almost everything else is changed, and not for the better.
- Yes, I really liked this story, although I do have to say that an adult would enjoy it much more than a young child would. It has that formulaic feel to it that almost instantly feels as though it is a folk tale that has been passed down for ages, and I was genuinely entertained by the story as it went through Mowgli's upbringing - and, oh god, can I touch, for a moment, on the major themes that Disney did leave out, mainly the brutal, bloody deaths that are not the work of just Mowgli, but perpetrated by his animal friends as various turns in the story?
- Yeah, I would say that by the end of the book, we can certainly say that the jungle is definitely short one lamed, man-eating tiger and a whole lotta Bandar-logs. The Bandar-log extermination scene is one that, quite literally scarred me mentally.
- In other words, it's pretty fucking awesome.
- A short read, exciting and compelling, the first Jungle Book is a worthy read for almost any adult and even some well-read and brave children - the language has, of course, aged, and having to discover what Kipling was referring to only slightly diminishes a reader's enjoyment of the story. Definitely a must-read if you are fascinated by the Disney film, but be warned - they are almost as fundamentally different as apples and grapes - both are still fruit, but c'mon, you know you prefer one over the other, even if only slightly.