Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Comics: Tales of the World’s Wildest Beasts
Pedro Rodriguez, illustrator
I’ve tried valiantly to read a few more comic/cartoon/graphic novels recently because I know so many kids who enjoy them, and I still feel like I’m in unfamiliar territory. So I jumped at the chance to read this ARC since I’m a big fan of Kipling’s Just So Stories. Phrases like the “great, gray green greasy Limpopo” jog along in my head, “o best beloved,” whenever I think of them.
Some classics have been translated into graphic novel form quite successfully; this is not one of those instances. These are fun to read/look at, but the tone is all wrong–a bit more snarky and “hip” than Kipling’s original voice. In addition, so many of those deliciously perfect read aloud phrases, such as the ones mentioned above, have been removed in order to make the text more sparse, no doubt. The art is fun and engaging, the stories chosen are good ones (“The Elephant’s Child,” “How the Leopard Got His Spots,” “How the Camel Got His Hump,” and “Why the Rhino Has Wrinkled Skin”). [those might not be the exact wording of the titles, but you’ll recognize which ones they are if you’ve read the originals] There are some nice extras in terms of nonfiction information on the various animals, and the book is a quick read.
All in all, this is definitely no substitute for the original tales. It might work as a suitable introduction for children who are really into graphic novels and lead them then to the originals. It might also be a fun exercise for students to read these after having read one of the originals and then try their hand at creating a comic from one of their favorite stories.
Suitable for all ages; scheduled to be in stores this month!