Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Rudyard Kipling is best-know for his poems
and stories set in India during the period
of British Imperial rule.

A couple of nights ago, my husband and I happened to tune into PBS in time to watch Masterpiece's MY BOY JACK.  It was the heart-rending story of Rudyard Kipling's son, John (affectionately known as "Jack"), who went missing in action while serving with the Irish Guards in the Battle of Loos during WWI. Kipling had great difficulty accepting Jack's death - having played a major role in getting his son, plagued by severe short-sightedness, accepted to military service. Actors David Haig and Daniel Radcliffe (who both bear an uncanny resemblance to Kipling) and actress Kim Cattrell capably portrayed the Kipling family, revealing the complex conflicts of emotion faced by families during wartime as they wrestle with the sacrifices made when one of their own serves and dies for their country in this way.

A young Rudyard Kipling
In reading over Rudyard Kipling's biography, I was struck by the fact that throughout his life (possibly due to his own self-preservation after a very difficult childhood of neglect and mistreatment) he held to the values of hard work, trust, loyalty, and honor - all of which are infused and extolled in his contributions to children's literature.

His enduring classics, the two JUNGLE BOOKS (his imaginative collections of short stories that include "Mowgli" and "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi") and CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS, are timeless and well-told.   My children especially enjoyed Kipling's fables, JUST SO STORIES  - titled because his young daughter Josephine (who sadly died of pneumonia at age six) wanted the tales repeated to her "just so".

Rudyard and Caroline's three children:
Josephine, John, and Elsie
(National Trust archives)
This prolific writer of poems and books for adults and children alike, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient (he was 42).  He survived a difficult childhood and many family tragedies to become one of literature's best-loved writers.  *(Quick revision:  Kipling also illustrated, with his own woodcuts, the JUST SO STORIES edition that I've linked below! Thank you to my friend/artist/fellow-blogger/, Grace, for pointing out my omission of this information!  Additional sidelight:  Kipling's uncles were Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter, two very famous Victorian painters.  These uncles were married to Kipling's mother's sisters, who were all daughters of famed author George MacDonald!)

The Jungle Books: Featuring the Complete and Unabridged Works the Jungle Book and the Second Junge Book (Kennebec Large Print Perennial Favorites Collection)
Just So Stories
Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling


In 1916, Kipling's SEA WARFARE was published, which contained a poetic tribute to his son Jack.


  1. And don't forget that he was also an illustrator -- the Just So Stories illustrations in the version of the book you've got above are done by him. A *very* talented individual.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out, Grace! You're right - I had read about his illustrations and then forgot to mention that amazing fact - they ARE his own beautiful woodcuts. This was news to me (I learn so much doing this blog!) The edition we have here at home is illustrated by someone else.