Just So Stories

by Rudyard Kipling

Other authorsSafaya Salter (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1987

Call number




Henry Holth & Co (J) (1987), Edition: 1st American ed, 96 pages


A collection of the well-known stories, including "How the Whale Got His Throat," "The Elephant's Child," and "The Butterfly that Stamped."

Media reviews

My copy of Just So Stories, in it's brick-red cover with the Elephant's Child straining away with all his might to escape the jaws of the Crocodile on the banks of "the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River", the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake in close attendance was the first book I truly loved. ... Kipling has an Aesopian understanding of animals, our dealings with them and our curious interrelatedness, interdependence, how we can learn about our own strange behaviour, our vanities and our foolishness through them and through our relationship with them.
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Han skriver med lätt hand och bitvis är det i bästa brittiska nonsenstradition, men i sin helhet förstås långt bort från Lewis Carrolls självklara genialitet. Barnen roas med vilda påhitt, verser, upprepningar och konstigheter.
I god sagoanda förväntar man sig att landa mjukt i sensmoralens klokskap. Men hos Kipling landar man hårt. När den lilla elefantungen som ständigt blir bestraffad för sin frågvishet tillägnar sig sin snabel, då är det för att ge igen för den misshandel han utstått.
[B]erättelserna är utformade med en sådan språklig uppfinningsrikedom – väl tillvaratagen av översättaren – att även mycket frågvisa lyssnare torde frestas att hålla tyst för att inte missa nästa fantasieggande formulering.
I framställningen paras gulligt nosens med det lösligt högtravande, vilket stundtals gör att berättelserna får drag av tidig surrealism. Visst riktar sig boken till unga läsare, fast den är skruvad på ett sådant vis att även vuxna har stort utbyte av den.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Jamski
This is one of those books you'd wish you'd read as a child...so you could, in turn, read to your OWN child. I would LOVE to have read this to PJ as a baby. The stories are enchanting and written very much as if Kipling were speaking to his own daughter, and each is more fascinating than the last, presenting fanciful explanations for commonplace questions, like, how the Camel got his hump. Or how the first letter was written. Or my favorite, what happened when the butterfly stamped his foot. Brilliant stuff, this, and it should be a part of every library...and on your list of books to read to YOUR child!… (more)
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
A nice little collection of short stories that tell why this or that animal is the way it is. Amusing tales written with a very engaging style. Check it out, O Best Beloved. Read it to your kids or something.
LibraryThing member ElizabethPisani
If you have never read this, do it now. I don't care how old you are, or how snobby. If you have even a modicum of imagination, the Just So stories are one of the great pleasure in life.
LibraryThing member lauraejensen
A bizarre collection of fantastical explanations for things such as how the camel got his humps. Clever, and imaginative, useful in the classroom as vocabulary building, and how-to's, as well as creative writing. Some of Kipling's attitudes are questionable, and may need to be filtered.
LibraryThing member Terpsichoreus
Beautiful and wonderful. Works of genius by a man who freed himself enough that he could give himself up to that genius instead of trying to make sure that it came out perfectly. As pleasing as his other works are, none I've read can match the joy, humor, simplicity, and odd truth of these.

Like children's literature should be, these stories never lose their humor or punch. Despite some redundancy with actual myths and some cases of artificially lowering complexity for children and hence growing transparent, eminently enjoyable.… (more)
LibraryThing member Embejo
My favourite was ‘How the Camel Got His Hump’. The stories are short and funny, and each have a little message or something for the reader to think about. We have an edition illustrated by the author and he’s written lovely captions too.

I’m so glad we own a copy of this one as I’m sure they are stories we’ll read again. And again. And again as each child grows into them.… (more)
LibraryThing member bzedan
A lot of these were re-printed in my 1963 World Book Encyclopaedia children's extra set (ten volumes covering famous places, people, classic stories, fables, general crafts and how-tos, etc). The elephant bit still gets me.
LibraryThing member antiquary
These are storoes I have loved since I was a small child. Phrases from them e.g. "tidy pachyderm" and "satiable curiosity" were part of the family's language
LibraryThing member mbmackay
Children's stories, published in 1902, that provide fantasy explanations for the origin of things - animal features, writing etc. Famous as children's stories, they also provide the epithet for tendentious evolutionary reasoning. Interesting. Also my first book read on the lap-top from a Project Gutenburg text. On-screen reading is not as easy as it should seem! Read March 2009… (more)
LibraryThing member DGibson
Quirky and whimsical stories that give explanations for such things as an elephant's trunk, a camel's hump, or the tides. The tales themselves have a distinct non-Western feel, and could easily be mistaken for older, traditional tales despite being written by a Brit in the early 1900s.
The tales are unique but written in an odd almost oral style that takes some getting used to. They might be better read aloud than read internally.

Having enjoyed the tales as a child I am uncertain if they would still be appealing to modern children or if they're still appreciated even in the modern age.
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
I only read two stories from Just So Stories, "How the First Letter was Written" and "How the Alphabet was Made." Both were incredibly fun to read, especially aloud. Kipling pokes fun at the stereotypes of parents and children with names like, "Lady-who-asks-a-very-many-questions" for the mother and "Small-person-with-out-any-manners-who-ought-to-be-spanked" for the child. In both stories the theme is the need for better communication skills and are meant to be read together. The first letter makes up the alphabet later on and one story is a continuation of the other. Rumor has it that both "How the First Letter was Written" and "How the Alphabet was Made" started out as oral stories, told to Kipling's daughter Josephine in 1900.… (more)
LibraryThing member ogopogo
i grew up with these fab tales. i love them.
LibraryThing member bookishbat
I will always love this book for the story The Elephant's Child. My father read this to me as a bedtime story and I will never forget him reading the portion of the story where the elephant's nose has been caught by the crocodile (oops, spoiler), and how my father would pinch his nose in order to change his voice to read that. Still makes me smile.… (more)
LibraryThing member Sean191
Just So Stories was just so disappointing. Like Aesop's Fables with less fun to them and mostly lacking morals to the stories. The language was repetitive and very dated and boring. I've been told Kim is a very good book, so I'll give it a shot, but I don't have high hopes.
LibraryThing member studioloo
I didn't bother to finish this book - had really expected more of it but actually the stories are not the kind of golden childhood story that you get with many other classic children's authors. This particular copy of the book has illustrations in it and large paragraphs that are placed as subtext in the middle or bottom of the page so they are somewhat interrupting. I just found much of the book nonsensical, but not in a good way. I think the concept had more potential than the stories actually were able to unfold into.… (more)
LibraryThing member vinitm04
This is an all time classic, featuring lovely animal stories written by Mr Kipling. A perfect read for parents to read out to children on a rainy day or just before bed. My favorite ones include "The Beginning of the Armadillos" and "How the Elephant got his Trunk". The original illustrations are also an amazing addition to the book. Highly recommended… (more)
LibraryThing member jawalter

I've never read Kipling, but I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

I'm not sure where I got that idea, because it was wrongwrongwrong. He is so ... flippant? Insouciant? Sassy?

This book was a delight to read, and as charming as it is, I was also surprised by its brutality. It's very subtle, but almost all these stories revolve around moments of terrible physical peril. This was most notable and most threatening in "How the First Letter Was Written" as we watch the little girl put the stranger in great jeopardy simply by drawing a few ambiguous pictures. In most of the other stories, the threat seems a little more innocent (possibly because it involves animals rather than people), but it's always there, looming.
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LibraryThing member purlewe
This is truly magnificent. I can;t wait to finish listening to this. Geoffrey Palmer is FANTASTIC reading these stories. And the music that goes along with them are so sweet. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Palmer, or who has children. I could see listening to this with kids on a family vacation long drive. It is about 3.5 hrs long.… (more)
LibraryThing member tole_lege
"Books of wonder" is right. :)

Our children loved these stories - and for the slightly older child, they are a good way into discussions about how things have changed...

I also read them to students who are unused to oral traditions - the verbal hooks "the great, greygreen greasy Limpopo river.." etc. do a very good job of introducing them to the genre. AND I get to talk about satiable curtiosities...… (more)
LibraryThing member LanaLee123
I absolutely love this collection. While I have only made my way through half of the tales, I am very excited to read the rest. Each one is silly in its own way, but also effective in teaching a moral of some sort. I appreciate the content descriptions next to each photo as some are quite complex.
This collection would provide a great read in either the classroom or home setting for various ages. Certainly a book that even adults can enjoy.… (more)
LibraryThing member Czrbr
Book Description: NY: Weathervane, 1978. Boards. Very fine/Very fine. Reprint. 8vo - over 7" - 9¾" tall.

Bright wrap-around burgundy jacket with a picture of the saggy-baggy elephant and the crocodile on cover. Excellent jacket

A really beautiful copy. One of the best loved and most respected collections of stories for children, written in nice-sized readable print and protected in a new Mylar cover.… (more)
LibraryThing member auntieknickers
Every child should know these stories, although some of Kipling's attitudes may need to be discussed.
LibraryThing member zhyatt
Rudyard Kipling's collection of fairy tales and fables formed the majority of my childhood literary diet.
I can't tell you how much I was fascinated by his (maybe somewhat secondhand) myths of a primordial world, where men and animals competed and coexisted in more than one sense, where ancient untold wonders and unspoken secrets abound, and where a man helps his daughter design the English alphabet.
Don't let my rose-colored glasses fool you - it's really an amazing work. Stop reading this review and pick up a copy.
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LibraryThing member yougotamber
Cute stories of how the animals got to be who they are...
LibraryThing member Stahl-Ricco
Okay, I know that there is a racist element to this book, which I agree is terrible and hard to understand. That being said, I did like the stories and I enjoyed sharing them with my daughter. They are a compilation of "how things came to be", like how the camel got it's hump, how the elephant got it's trunk, and how to make your wives fall into line (umm..., that last one might also be not so appropriate...). Kipling uses a lot of repetition which my daughter loved, and was really effective in the storytelling. And his use of addressing the reader as "my Best Beloved" equally was effective with her (and me too, if I'm being truthful!) Again, full acknowledging that some of this is not appropriate now, or then, I still think this is a good read to share with your children. Maybe just do some editing first!… (more)




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