Original woodcut illustration for The Just So ...

Original woodcut illustration for The Just So story ‘The Elephant’s Child’ by Rudyard Kipling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just So Stories. 

The stories make you yearn to see far-away places.

Tanzania.  Australia.

The Himalayan Mountains. The Sahara Desert.

Pusat Tasek.

They teach you about animals.

Dingos. Hippopotamuses. Kangaroos.

Giraffes. Elephants. Hedgehogs. Armadillos.

Leopards. Baboons. Crabs.

They are sweetly affectionate, addressing “O my Best Beloved” as though the author were reading directly to the grandchildren sitting in your lap.

They are moral.

The camel got his hump so he could work three days in a row without stopping for water to make up for the three days at the beginning of the world when he was lazy and did not do his part to help the other animals in building the world.

They teach wisdom.

The cat earned a domestic place in a family without giving up its independence by being of service to the family.

They are lyrical.

They are love stories.

They are stories about how wise women can be.

This, O my Best Beloved, is a story – a new and a wonderful story – a story quite different from the other stories – a story about The Most Wise Sovereign Solomon the Son of David.

There are three hundred and fifty-five stories about Solomon the Son of David; but this is not one of them.

It is not the story of the Lapwing who found the Water: or the Hoopoe who shaded Solomon the Son of David from the heat.

It is not the story of the Glass Pavement, or the Ruby with the Crooked Hole, or the Gold Bars of Balkis.

It is the story of the Butterfly that Stamped.

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories explain:

  • Why the elephant has a long trunk (The Elephant’s Child)
  • How the alphabet was created (How the Alphabet Was Made)
  • Why rhinoceros skin is wrinkled (How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin).

My seven-year-old grandchildren are just starting to get interested in books of short stories or chapters, asking repeatedly for Winnie the Pooh and Uncle Remus.

I’ve just brought out my 1952 copy of Just So Stories for their next visit.

Who Was Rudyard Kipling?

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is known for writing about British soldiers in India and children’s short stories.

Born in India to British parents, he returned to England at the age of five where he and his three-year-old sister were boarded with a couple who took in the children of British citizens living in India.

He returned to India at 16 after it was determined he did not have the academic ability to get into Oxford College on scholarship.

He took a job as assistant editor of a small local newspaper, writing and publishing short stories in his spare time.

Within a few years he was collecting his stories into children’s books:

Just So Stories, which he illustrated, was first published in 1902.

He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, the first for a work in English.

He is still the youngest recipient of the prize, at 42.

Click here to order the book, Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, from amazon, so your grandchildren can pass it on to their grandchildren.

Click here to read any of Kipling’s stories for free. They are all in the public domain.

Do you remember the fanciful stories of Rudyard Kipling?

Do you have any other favorite stories about how animals came to be the way they are?

Did you ever read Kipling’s stories about the jungle?

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To you and delighting your grandchildren with exotic countries and poetic stories.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers



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