Costa prize-winner Rundell has written five back stories for characters in The Jungle Book, bound together in a coffee-table volume sumptuously illustrated by multiple award-winner Williams. Rundell tells us how Mowgli’s wolf mother used to be a fighter, what Bagheera the panther has lost, why Baloo the bear values language, when the python Kaa befriended a little girl, and about the debt that Shere Khan owes to other jungle creatures. These beginnings resonate with echoes of Kipling’s original and Just So Stories. They are written with mischievous scatological jokes, lively action and characteristic precision and surprise, because, as Baloo says, language “matters more than anything else”. The stories savour the profusion of the rainforest, as do Williams’s spectacularly lavish collages of engravings of animals and plants.
Into the Jungle by Costa winner Katherine Rundell (Macmillan) tumbles readers into Mowgli’s vivid world, providing origin stories for Kipling’s best-loved animal characters as well as a deft, astute rebalancing of his least palatable attitudes.
Costa Award-winning author Rundell draws on her own childhood in Africa to bring this gorgeously illustrated book vividly to life . . . Witty, charming and steeped in the harsh truth of nature, this is an absolute must for all Jungle Book fans, young or old.