The only thing I really knew about The Jungle Book before reading was what I had seen in the 1967 animated film by Disney. Which is nothing like the book at all. There are similar characters like Mowgli, Bagheera, Baloo, and Shere Khan, but the similarities end there. It still takes place in the jungles of India, and there are moments where things are the same (like the monkeys kidnapping Mowgli, though for an entirely different reason, or that Shere Khan hunts Mowgli or that Mowgli is part of a wolf pack). But overall, the book was very different. And I didn't enjoy it.
About half the book follows the adventures of Mowgli--who is a complete brat and irked me during most of it. He never listens, and he acts like he knows everything. He even spends time in a human village to learn their ways and then flaunt back to the the jungle because, well, he can. In addition, he kills Shere Khan. Which is sad because Shere Khan is the best. Baloo wasn't around a lot in the book either, which was sad. Most of the things I actually like about the film weren't present in the book.
My camera isn't that great, so I found images online this time. (source)
The other half of the book is made up of random, unconnected stories. Some still take place in the jungles of India, and some don't. There's a story about a white seal, the tale of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, a story about elephants sneaking off at night to "dance" or something, and an odd tale about animals discussing their obedience training. It was strange and not at all what I was expecting.
The illustrations were gorgeous. I love the design and details. Each chapter ends with a fantastic page spread that includes song lyrics or poems. I love all the interactive elements too. There are maps and fold-out monkeys and spinning discs and much more.
I think Minalima did a splendid job with lavishly illustrating The Jungle Book. I just didn't enjoy the story. I'm not a huge fan of the animated film either, so perhaps it's just me. I don't regret buying the book because it is beautiful, and I think if I were to buy classic books in a fancy form, I would choose these designs every time. The two books look nice together, and I'm glad I finally read it.
Have you ever read The Jungle Book? What other children's classics do you enjoy?