Children everywhere have read and loved Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book—and continue to do so. Here Blackstone offers this collection of moral fables in its entirety.
Tales of Mowgli, the boy raised by animals in the exotic jungles of India; Rikkitikkitavi, a courageous young mongoose who battles the sinister black cobra Nag; Toomai, the boy who works with elephants; and more will delight listeners both young and old. These classic stories brim with adventure and thrills as the lively characters fend off ferocious tigers and deadly snakes, slip through the jungle to watch elephants dance, and seek refuge from dangerous hunters.
Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Though these marvelous tales were written in Victorian times, they are still worthy of being read and enjoyed by today’s youngsters. Fantasy is currently very popular with young readers, and here are stories in this genre that are truly excellent.” (Children’s Literature)
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I had a hard time deciding which edition of The Jungle Book to purchase. The piece of information missing from most every item description was the actual contents of the recording. A survey of the unabridged versions of both Jungle Books I & II yields vastly disparate running times. To assist the discerning shopper, allow me to confirm that this edition (Blackstone Audio - running time 11h 8m) is the complete compilation of all of the stories and poems of The Jungle Books (1 & 2), from "Night Song in the Jungle", the prelude to "Mowgli's Brothers", to "The Outsong", the postlude to "The Spring Running", and everything in between.
"Excellent reading of classic tales"
I really enjoyed Ralph Cosham's narration. He does the voice of Bagheera so well, and it's different from Baloo or Mowgli. One note - this recording includes for the First and Second Jungle book. The Second Jungle Book, also narrated by Cosham, is available separately but I don't think you'd need it.
"I was totally entranced for hours"
I buy a bunch of audiobooks for my kids, but don't usually listen to them - I prefer reading my books myself. I started listening to this version of the Jungle Book to see the difference between it and the previous version I bought, and got totally sucked in. I listened to the story for hours after the kids were in bed, and was completely captivated the whole time. I love Ralph Cosham's narration, it's not distracting to me the way that a lot of audiobook narrators are and he does a good job of differentiating the characters without getting campy.
"Come To Me, Master of the Jungle"
This was a fun listen after seeing the excellent new film version (with Christopher Walken, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, and Scarlett Johanssen). While these stories are rich and varied, including the treasured Rikki Tikki Tavi, I most enjoyed those that followed the life of Mowgli, Baloo's Little Frog and beloved protegee of Bagheera, as he grew up and left the jungle to explore new trails (because "Man goes to Man at the last," as Kaa had always warned). By the end of the final story, The Spring Running, as the wise panther and faithful bear bid a bittersweet farewell to their now seventeen-year-old Master of the Jungle ("Remember, Bagheera loved thee"), this book was almost a tear-jerker.
The only downsides: The stories are not very gripping for most adults. Even with Ralph Cosham's flawless narration, this is no page-turner for listeners over 10-12 years of age. Also, Cosham's gorgeous vocal performance (minus the suspense of a Watership Down or at least a gentle Three Pines mystery) is too soothing to listen to while driving, or at least it was for me. It took me a loooong time to get through the book, because I could only listen at bedtime for a few minutes before falling asleep.
Grade: A-plus narration; B or B-plus overall.
I really enjoyed/am enjoying this book. Ralph Cosham does a very good job with the voices and - an unabridged taping of all of The Jungle Book, plus the short stories! So exciting! I listened to The Jungle Book I and II, when I was young. We went from tapes to CDs to Audible. :)
For those of you looking for a story similar to the Disney story of the same name, this is not it. Not even close. This book is the original story written by Kipling. A wolf family saves a baby human from the dangerous tiger, Sher Kan. The story follows the wolf clan, Mowgli, Balu, and Bageera as the years pass. There are several adventures compiled together to create The Jungle Book.
It is raw, emotional, and at times, sad. Not a happy ever after story. Still, I will always recommend it.
Also a part of this set are some of Mr. Kipling other well known short stories about animals around the world which we also enjoyed. My young children spent a whole Sunday afternoon sprawled around the house listening happily to them. :)
"One of my favorites"
I've always loved these stories, and I really enjoyed the audible version. Mr. Cosham gave the characters different voices workout going "over the top" as some narraters I've heard, and I enjoyed the pace.
"My favorite version of the Jungle Book"
These are all the classic tales in the Jungle Book... some of which I don't think I remember from when I was young like "Red Dog". I especially like the character voices of this narrator.
""Remember, Bagheera loved thee""
The seven stories of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1894) and the eight of The Second Jungle Book (1895) make a set of compact and potent, finely-written tales. They include heroic adventures of violence, quest, coming of age, or transcendence; stories of origin, revenge, or identity; and cautionary tales. Kipling introduces and concludes each story with catchy poem-songs distilling its essence. Contrary to the Disney impression, Mowgli appears in but about half the stories. These form a composite novel relating the adoption by wolves of baby Mowgli, his growth into the Master of the Jungle, and his foretold return to human society. As for A. A. Milne, for Kipling growing up is sad.
Not all the stories occur in the jungles of India--for example, one is set in the Himalayas and one near the North Pole. However, nearly all take place in the metaphoric Jungle away from modern industrial civilization. Throughout, Kipling convincingly and respectfully imagines himself into various animals (from wild to domesticated) and into various people (from youths to old men) and into various cultures (from Indian to Inuit). Throughout, he empathizes with the animal victims of human activity (hunting, working, warring, etc.). Throughout, he shows a keen insight into human nature (e.g., "Men must always be making traps for men, or they are not content").
Here is an account of the tales.
The Jungle Book
-In "Mowgli's Brothers," Mowgli the Man Cub is adopted as a baby into a wolf family and pack, with the aid of his mentors Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther and the enmity of his foe the tiger Shere Kahn.
-In "Ka's Hunting," Mowgli draws the attention of the Bandar-log, dirty, fickle, anarchic, cocky monkeys not unlike human beings, and makes the acquaintance of the giant python Ka.
-"Tiger! Tiger!" resolves the conflict between Shere Kahn and Mowgli, amid the boy's difficulties fitting into a human village after getting exiled from the wolf pack for being a Man.
-"The White Seal" relates the quest of a unique seal, Kotick, to find an island where his people may live without being clubbed and skinned by men.
-"Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" is a compact epic whose heroic tropes range from the arrival by flood of the young mongoose to his descent into the underworld. Kipling's descriptions of Rikki and the cobras and their ruthless fights are vivid.
-"Toomai of the Elephants" evokes the unfathomable mystery of elephants when Little Toomai sees what no human has ever seen.
-In "Her Majesty's Servants" British army gun team elephants, gun battery bullocks, screw-gun mules, cavalry horses, and commissariat camels talk about their different ways of serving men during war.
The Second Jungle Book
-In "How Fear Came," Hathi the elephant tells a story explaining why animals live apart, why men kill animals, and why the tiger has stripes.
-"The Miracle of Purun Bhagat" concerns Purun Dass, a Brahmin Prime Minister, who at the peak of worldly success becomes a mendicant holy man in search of transcendence in the mountains.
-In "Letting in the Jungle" Mowgli tries to save his adoptive human parents from being burned alive and recruits his animal friends to visit a terrible punishment upon their village.
-"The Undertakers" depicts the funny and creepy conversation between three scavengers--a crane, a jackal, and a crocodile--ending with a violent, unpleasant, and fitting surprise.
-In "The King's Ankus" Mowgli learns how a bejeweled artifact can kill men in a way that recalls Chaucer's "The Pardoner's Tale."
-"Quiquern" is the grueling and moving coming of age story of Kotuko, a 14-year-old Inuit who must try to save his people during a terrible winter famine.
-In the brutal "Red Dog" Mowgli and the wolf pack (with help from Ka) take on an invading pack of 200 ruthless dogs (low creatures with hair between their toes).
-In "Spring Running" Mowgli's 17th spring finds him large, strong, clever, and beautiful, but also feeling contrary and poisoned, until his aging animal friends tell him he must return to men. Sex, unmentioned by Kipling, is everywhere.
Ralph Cosham does his usual spot-on, understated reading of the audiobook. His serpentine wise Ka, spooky white cobra, slow gun battery bullock, and sneaky jackal are great. I love Kipling's animal language, with elevated and archaic diction for predators (e.g., "Bagheera, why dost thou shake all over?") and animal points of view (e.g., they call fire "Red Flower" and money "The stuff that passes from hand to hand and never grows warmer"). And Cosham is the perfect reader to enhance Kipling's tight, vivid, beautiful, and savory writing:
-Mowgli was far and far through the forest, running hard, and his heart was hot in him.
-Halfway up the hill he met Bagheera with the morning dew shining like moonstones on his coat.
-Sometimes a tuft of high grass washed along his sides as a wave washes along the sides of a ship, and sometimes a cluster of wild-pepper vines would scrape along his back, or a bamboo would creak where his shoulder touched it. But between those times he moved absolutely without any sound, drifting through the thick Garo forest as though it had been smoke.
Some of the stories might not suit the interests of children. Kipling's Just So Stories (1902) is more child-friendly, his Captains Courageous (1897) less painful. But the Jungle Books are of a high literary quality that would enrich any reader, child or adult. As for Kipling supposedly being a white imperial apologist, I did cringe when told that "every well-brought-up mongoose always hopes to be a house mongoose some day," but such things are rare in these stories. Anyone interested in children's literature, animals, and passages like the one below should find much to enjoy in the Jungle Books:
"What is it? What is it?" he said. "I do not wish to leave the jungle, and I do not know what this is. Am I dying, Bagheera?"
"No, Little Brother. That is only tears such as men use," said Bagheera.
Given that I have never read the print versions of Jungle Book I & II, I am unable to consider it better than then audio editions. Nevertheless, I used the audio edition to my advantage. I listened to this book wherever and whenever I could. I took it places and enjoyed it in a way I could not do with a print book, such as while driving. I also listened to chapters again to catch what I have missed. If you do not have time to read the print version, listen to the audio edition while jogging, driving, or cooking.
Of Kipling's contemporaries, I compared his Jungle Book I & II to Joel Chandler Harris' "Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings." Both focused on the folklore and songs of a region, giving their stories an air of the exotic. Kipling did not write The Jungle Book for Indian readers but English, and Harris did not write Uncle Remus for African Americans but Anglo Americans. I still enjoy their works but I keep in mind that these stories would be different if written by Indians and African Americans, respectively.
Ralph Cosham's performance has great range. He portrayed a variety of characters and accents, both animals and human. I heard The Jungle Book.
Moments in the book that particularly moved me were those where the movie and animated versions veered off from the text. I was surprised to read how Shere Khan really died. His original death showed cunning, collaboration, and coordination of Mowgli's part.
I listened to many of these stories twice to fully absorb details I missed the first time. Kipling is an exceptional storyteller worth reading and rereading his signature work.
Audible has available many versions of Jungle Book. These are wonderful stories mostly about the boy named Mowgli raised by wolves. Stories of other characters are included. I listened to one version read by Alan Munro and this one read by Ralph Cosham who I prefer. This version also includes both Jungle Book I & II whereas the other does not. The Jungle Book rightly belongs with the great classics of all literature. This version is worthy and I recommend it.
"The Original Jungle book"
I love the original Jungle Book and its very well read. i keep going back to this audio book and listening over and over again.
The likes of this is seldom found nowadays. A delight and a treasure and Disney version does not do it justice.
"A classic set of stories excellently narrated"
Obviously the book itself is a classic, children's stories set in the jungles of India revolving around the interactions between man and animal and the Law of The Jungle. Chances are you know at least some of the Mowgli stories anyway and they are the best of the bunch for me. Not that the others are bad but those stand out. There are some poems interspersed which vary in quality but do help flesh out the background a bit. It's obviously written for kids and at times the language is overly simple for my taste but in the main I loved it. This was my first exposure to the book, having not read it in physical format before.
Cosham's narration is pitch perfect for me, he captures the poetic nature of the writing without making it sound like a recitation. Recommended.
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