Just So Stories is a collection of whimsical tales accompanied by the author’s excellent pen-and-ink drawings and humorous verse. The stories are written in the first person and addressed to “O Best Beloved.” (The “beloved” is Rudyard Kipling’s eldest child, Josephine, who died at age six in 1899.) The narrative tone is the intimate voice of a doting father talking to a favorite child.
Like Aesop’s fables, some of the tales in Just So Stories anthropomorphize animals to illustrate human virtues and failings. Like traditional folklore and myths, other stories in the collection explain the origins of natural phenomena.
Just So Stories are considered some of Kipling’s best works. They give fantastical explanations for various phenomena.
Source: Kipling, Rudyard. Just So Stories.
- “THE BEGINNING OF THE ARMADILLOS”
- Tortoise and Painted Jaguar come across a new kind of creature in the woods and try to decide what it is with the help of Mother Jaguar.
- “THE BUTTERFLY THAT STAMPED”
- The story involves King Solomon, a butterfly and their wives and the question of keeping up appearences in front of one’s spouse.
- “THE CAT THAT WALKED BY HIMSELF”
- A story about the animals in the Wet Wild Woods and how the cat that walked helped domesticate all the wild animals.
- “THE CRAB THAT PLAYED WITH THE SEA”
- The Eldest Magician helps the Man with the flooding problem caused by Pau Amma, the monster crab.
- “THE SING-SONG OF OLD MAN KANGAROO”
- Why the kangaroo is very fast on land.
- “THE ELEPHANT’S CHILD”
- How elephants got trunks, and how the Elephant’s Child learned to like his new feature.
- “HOW THE WHALE GOT HIS THROAT”
- A whale eats a crafty man, who finds a way to escape and damn up the whale’s throat.
- “HOW THE CAMEL GOT HIS HUMP”
- A camel refuses to work and only says “humph” in response to requests for work…so a Dijnn gives him a “humph” as punishment for laziness.
- “HOW THE FIRST LETTER WAS WRITTEN”
- A drawing leads to misunderstanding then friendship.
- “HOW THE ALPHABET WAS MADE”
- Neolithic man Tegumai Bopsulai is out fishing with his daughter Taffy whose attempt to send a message in a drawing leads to complete misunderstanding. Taffy suggests a way of representing the sounds of the Tegumai language in pictograms. Together she and her father evolve a system using familiar objects and facial expressions, which when simplified become letters of the alphabet.
- “HOW THE LEOPARD GOT HIS SPOTS”
- How a leopard and an Ethiopian hunter changed the color of their skin to help them hunting the animals of the High Veldt.
- “HOW THE RHINOCEROS GOT HIS SKIN”
- Extreme itching wrinkles the rhino’s skin.