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Just So Stories

Just So Stories

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Just So Stories

4/5 (33 valutazioni)
191 pagine
3 ore
Apr 21, 2020


Thirteen classic children’s stories from the Nobel Prize–winning author of The Jungle Book.
Inspired by the bedtime stories Rudyard Kipling told his own daughter, Josephine, the charming tales in Just So Stories, including “How the Leopard Got His Spots” and “How the Camel Got His Hump,” attempt to answer the many questions children have about animals.
“Children love these stories as well because of their extraordinary ingenuity and inventiveness. Kipling has an Aesopian understanding of animals, of 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.” —Michael Morpurgo, The Guardian
“It does for very little children much what the Jungle Books did for older ones. It is artfully artless, in its themes, in its repetitions, in its habitual limitation, and occasional abeyance, of adult humor. It strikes a child as the kind of yarn his father or uncle might have spun if he had just happened to think of it; and it has, like all good fairy-business, a sound core of philosophy.” —The Atlantic
Apr 21, 2020

Informazioni sull'autore

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) was born in Bombay and educated in England. He returned to India to begin a career in journalism and would go on to become one of the most popular and acclaimed writers of his day. Among his best-loved works is The Jungle Book, a collection of stories about a boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle, which was adapted into the classic Disney film of the same name. In 1907, Kipling became the first English-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Correlato a Just So Stories

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Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling


How the Whale Got His Throat

In the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackerel and the pickerel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel. All the fishes he could find in all the sea he ate with his mouth—so! Till at last there was only one small fish left in all the sea, and he was a small ’Stute Fish, and he swam a little behind the Whale’s right ear, so as to be out of harm’s way. Then the Whale stood up on his tail and said, ‘I’m hungry.’ And the small ’Stute Fish said in a small ’stute voice, ‘Noble and generous Cetacean, have you ever tasted Man?’

‘No,’ said the Whale. ‘What is it like?’

‘Nice,’ said the small ’Stute Fish. ‘Nice but nubbly.’

‘Then fetch me some,’ said the Whale, and he made the sea froth up with his tail.

‘One at a time is enough,’ said the ’Stute Fish. ‘If you swim to latitude Fifty North, longitude Forty West (that is magic), you will find, sitting on a raft, in the middle of the sea, with nothing on but a pair of blue canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you must not forget the suspenders, Best Beloved), and a jack-knife, one ship-wrecked Mariner, who, it is only fair to tell you, is a man of infinite-resource-and-sagacity.’

So the Whale swam and swam to latitude Fifty North, longitude Forty West, as fast as he could swim, and on a raft, in the middle of the sea, with nothing to wear except a pair of blue canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you must particularly remember the suspenders, Best Beloved), and a jack-knife, he found one single, solitary shipwrecked Mariner, trailing his toes in the water. (He had his mummy’s leave to paddle, or else he would never have done it, because he was a man of infinite-resource-and-sagacity.)

Then the Whale opened his mouth back and back and back till it nearly touched his tail, and he swallowed the shipwrecked Mariner, and the raft he was sitting on, and his blue canvas breeches, and the suspenders (which you must not forget), and the jack-knife—He swallowed them all down into his warm, dark, inside cup-boards, and then he smacked his lips—so, and turned round three times on his tail.

This is the picture of the Whale swallowing the Mariner with his infinite-resource-and-sagacity, and the raft and the jack-knife and his suspenders, which you must not forget. The buttony-things are the Mariner’s suspenders, and you can see the knife close by them. He is sitting on the raft, but it has tilted up sideways, so you don’t see much of it. The whity thing by the Mariner’s left hand is a piece of wood that he was trying to row the raft with when the Whale came along. The piece of wood is called the jaws-of-a-gaff. The Mariner left it outside when he went in. The Whale’s name was Smiler, and the Mariner was called Mr. Henry Albert Bivvens, A.B. The little ’Stute Fish is hiding under the Whale’s tummy, or else I would have drawn him. The reason that the sea looks so ooshy-skooshy is because the Whale is sucking it all into his mouth so as to suck in Mr. Henry Albert Bivvens and the raft and the jack-knife and the suspenders. You must never forget the suspenders.

But as soon as the Mariner, who was a man of infinite-resource-and-sagacity, found himself truly inside the Whale’s warm, dark, inside cup-boards, he stumped and he jumped and he thumped and he bumped, and he pranced and he danced, and he banged and he clanged, and he hit and he bit, and he leaped and he creeped, and he prowled and he howled, and he hopped and he dropped, and he cried and he sighed, and he crawled and he bawled, and he stepped and he lepped, and he danced hornpipes where he shouldn’t, and the Whale felt most unhappy indeed. (Have you forgotten the suspenders?)

So he said to the ’Stute Fish, ‘This man is very nubbly, and besides he is making me hiccough. What shall I do?’

‘Tell him to come out,’ said the ’Stute Fish.

So the Whale called down his own throat to the shipwrecked Mariner, ‘Come out and behave yourself. I’ve got the hiccoughs.’

‘Nay, nay!’ said the Mariner. ‘Not so, but far otherwise. Take me to my natal-shore and the white-cliffs-of-Albion, and I’ll think about it.’ And he began to dance more than ever.

‘You had better take him home,’ said the ’Stute Fish to the Whale. ‘I ought to have warned you that he is a man of infinite-resource-and-sagacity.’

So the Whale swam and swam and swam, with both flippers and his tail, as hard as he could for the hiccoughs; and at last he saw the Mariner’s natal-shore and the white-cliffs-of-Albion, and he rushed half-way up the beach, and opened his mouth wide and wide and wide, and said, ‘Change here for Winchester, Ashuelot, Nashua, Keene, and stations on the Fitchburg Road;’ and just as he said ‘Fitch’ the Mariner walked out of his mouth. But while the Whale had been swimming, the Mariner, who was indeed a person of infinite-resource-and-sagacity, had taken his jack-knife and cut up the raft into a little square grating all running criss-cross, and he had tied it firm with his suspenders (now you know why you were not to forget the suspenders!), and he dragged that grating good and tight into the Whale’s throat, and there it stuck! Then he recited the following Sloka, which, as you have not heard it, I will now proceed to relate—

By means of a grating

I have stopped your ating.

Here is the Whale looking for the little ’Stute Fish, who is hiding under the Door-sills of the Equator. The little ’Stute Fish’s name was Pingle. He is hiding among the roots of the big seaweed that grows in front of the Doors of the Equator. I have drawn the Doors of the Equator. They are shut. They are always kept shut, because a door aught always to be kept shut. The ropy-thing right across it is the Equator itself; and the things that look like rocks are the two giants Moar and Koar, that keep the Equator in order. They drew the shadow-pictures on the doors of the Equator, and they carved all those twisty fishes under the Doors. The beaky-fish are called beaked Dolphins, and the other fish with the queer heads are called Hammer-headed Sharks. The Whale never found the little ’Stute Fish till he got over his temper, and then they became good friends again.

For the Mariner he was also an Hi-ber-ni-an. And he stepped out on the shingle, and went home to his mother, who had given him leave to trail his toes in the water; and he married and lived happily ever afterward. So did the Whale. But from that day on, the grating in his throat, which he could neither cough up nor swallow down, prevented him eating anything except very, very small fish; and that is the reason why whales nowadays never eat men or boys or little girls.

The small ’Stute Fish went and hid himself in the mud under the Door-sills of the Equator. He was afraid that the Whale might be angry with him.

The Sailor took the jack-knife home. He was wearing the blue canvas breeches when he walked out on the shingle. The suspenders were left behind, you see, to tie the grating with; and that is the end of that tale.

When the cabin port-holes are dark and green

Because of the seas outside;

When the ship goes wop (with a wiggle between)

And the steward falls into the soup-tureen,

And the trunks begin to slide;

When Nursey lies on the floor in a heap,

And Mummy tells you to let her sleep,

And you aren’t waked or washed or dressed,

Why, then you will know (if you haven’t guessed)

You’re ‘Fifty North and Forty West!’

How the Camel Got His Hump

How this is the next tale, and it tells how the Camel got his big hump.

In the beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, and the Animals were just beginning to work for Man, there was a Camel, and he lived in the middle of a Howling Desert because he did not want to work; and besides, he was a Howler himself. So he ate sticks and thorns and tamarisks and milkweed and prickles, most ’scruciating idle; and when anybody spoke to him he said ‘Humph!’ Just ‘Humph!’ and no more.

Presently the Horse came to him on Monday morning, with a saddle on his back and a bit in his mouth, and said, ‘Camel, O Camel, come out and trot like the rest of us.’

‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Horse went away and told the Man.

Presently the Dog came to him, with a stick in his mouth, and said, ‘Camel, O Camel, come and fetch and carry like the rest of us.’

‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Dog went away and told the Man.

Presently the Ox came to him, with the yoke on his neck and said, ‘Camel, O Camel, come and plough like the rest of us.’

‘Humph!’ said the Camel; and the Ox went away and told the Man. At the end of the day the Man called the Horse and the Dog and the Ox together, and said, ‘Three, O Three, I’m very sorry for you (with the world so new-and-all); but that Humph-thing in the Desert can’t work, or he would have been here by now, so I am going to leave him alone, and you must work double-time to make up for it.’

That made the Three very angry (with the world so new-and-all), and they held a palaver, and an indaba, and a punchayet, and a powwow on the edge of the Desert; and the Camel came chewing on milkweed most ’scruciating idle, and laughed at them. Then he said ‘Humph!’ and went away again.

Presently there came along the Djinn in charge of All Deserts, rolling in a cloud of dust (Djinns always travel that way because it is Magic), and he stopped to palaver and pow-pow with the Three.

‘Djinn of All Deserts,’ said the Horse, ‘is it right for any one to be idle, with the world so new-and-all?’

‘Certainly not,’ said the Djinn.

This is the picture of the Djinn making the beginnings of the Magic that brought the Humph to the Camel. First he drew a line in the air with his finger, and it became solid: and then he made a cloud, and then he made an egg—you can see them both at the bottom of the picture—and then there was a magic pumpkin that turned into a big white flame. Then the Djinn took his magic fan and fanned that flame till the flame turned into a magic by itself. It was a good Magic and a very kind Magic really, though it had to give the Camel

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33 valutazioni / 32 Recensioni
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  • (4/5)
    I especially recommend these stories as read-alouds. The narration is written directly to the listener and the use of repetition make these stories ideal read-aloud material. There are 12 stories in the book and we've been reading one story every day. Many of the stories are fanciful tales of how an animal received one of it's special characteristics, such as How the Camel Got its Hump and these were our favourite ones. Ds 7yo just laughed and laughed through these and I enjoyed them just as much as he did. Lots of fun!
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    Every child should know these stories, although some of Kipling's attitudes may need to be discussed.
  • (4/5)
    I just love these stories. They remind me of my childhood, and in their whole style and structure they're just made to be read aloud. In a very childlike way I want to nod sagely and tell the world, "yes, that's how it must have been that the elephant got its trunk or the camel its humps!" after every story.
  • (3/5)
    These are great stories to read aloud (even to yourself!)They are full of wonderfully luscious alliterative phrases, like, in the Elephant's Child: "on the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo river", and, in the story of Armadillo and the Painted Jaguar: "'Son, son!' said his mother ever so many times, graciously waving her tail..."This is an illustrated edition, but sadly the images haven't been saved large enough to enable you to zoom in, so some of the detail can't be seen.The layout is good, but the content shows a lack of careful proof-reading. I started with the Armadillo story and stumbled over a bit of poor OCR that was so confusing I had to go online to find another copy to discover what the word should have been (this ed reads "I don't rib Painted Jaguar", where it should read "I don't like Painted Jaguar"). Hence, only 3 stars
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    Cute stories of how the animals got to be who they are...
  • (3/5)
    Done in the style of fables, but about the length of traditional fairy tales (think Grimm or Perrault). The animals in the fables encompass creatures from all over the world (India, Africa, Amazon off the top of my head). I'd say about half the stories captures my attention (and maybe imagination). It feels a bit dated, even though nothing really sets it off (no outmoded language or horrible stereotypes). A decent collection.
  • (3/5)
    A lovely gift from a lovelier friend.
  • (4/5)
    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!
  • (5/5)
    Kipling's take on these stories, many of them ones he gleaned from the cultures around him, are lyrical and fun, and make for a great book. I wish I had had a copy of this one when I was a kid.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of the most imaginative, playful, writerly books I have ever read. And re-read. Twenty-nine year-old Kipling wrote this collection of twelve stories in collaboration with his young daughter, Josephine. It is a series of fantastical accounts of creation and re-creation within the animal kingdom. For instance, it explains: "in the "squoggy marshy country somewhere in Africa," and "on the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River," the elephant got its long trunk when a crocodile got hold of his original "bulgy nose."

    I include this collection in the grand storytelling tradition of Fables Choisies and Aesop's Fables. And this particular edition is a gem because it includes the original illustrations, with which none other compare.

    As a writer, if ever I run short on words or inspiration, I need only re-visit one of these stories and the ideas start gushing.

    As a mother, I think this is one of the best books I ever read to my son. It shows children the value of words and artful play, and gives license to the unlimited scope of imagination.
  • (3/5)
    You are first introduced to what I believe are the "Just So" stories actually in the Jungle Books, especially Jungle Book II, when they are at the drying up waterhole with the predators on one side and the prey on the other. From there other bits of "jungle lore" are woven in while this is where my interest with this particular book came to life. Kipling's "Just So Stories" are written more in fashion with Carroll's Alice stories. They are fantastical, have lessons hidden in them and at the same time are too frivolous to be taken at face value. Their age is given away by the subjects and how they are portrayed as well as the idea of the British Empire. Those who seem to be stuck on that mustn't forget in that timeframe how they thought or wrote those beliefs out wasn't looked down upon but rather commonplace. What I didn't like was the fact that the pictures were in black and white. Although I know that it was in keeping with the original the pictures were too dark to be able to see anything. The introduction of where he often added jokes and other trivia couldn't be seen nor the details. I would love for someone to eventually make some colored pictures, which could be tucked towards the back for those who are curious. Otherwise I did enjoy the additions that Puffin added in the back - an Author File, a Who's Who, a Some Things To Think About, a Some Things To Do, a Did You Know and a Glossary. These extras give an opportunity to get to know more about the book and author while not being so heavy that it bores you out or makes you want to toss the book while reading it. Most definitely loved this formatting.... So what is my favorite story? "The Cat That Walked By Himself" although I don't like the idea of the idea perfect men would throw things at a cat they meet and be considered for coming up with that. Otherwise the attitude hits the cat right between the ears.
  • (5/5)
    This is one of those books you'd wish you'd read as a 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!
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    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
  • (2/5)
    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
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed these so much that I was crushed when I realized I had listened to the last story. The narrator was Geoffrey Palmer - I now have another reason to think he is marvelous, he was such a storyteller.
  • (2/5)
    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.
  • (2/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)

    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.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    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
  • (4/5)
    The stories are still quite entertaining to read. I will definitely read it to my children should I have any
  • (5/5)
    Written into my memory, with rhythm repeats and long words
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.--J.