Rundell emphasizes unity in diversity in this 21st-century companion to a complicated 19th-century classic.

INTO THE JUNGLE

STORIES FOR MOWGLI

In this modern companion to The Jungle Book, the man-cub Mowgli listens to the histories of several original characters—including Raksha, Baloo, and Bagheera—which helps him understand his place in the jungle and among his people.

The collection begins with Father Wolf placing Mowgli between his paws and licking him clean, as he would with any other pup. When Mowgli asks for a story, Father Wolf tells him about Mother Wolf, Raksha, and her encounter with and subsequent escape from the fierce tiger Shere Khan. At the end of the story, Brother Wolf finds Mowgli and tells him that Raksha is looking for him. Mowgli mistakenly assumes he’s in trouble and takes off into the jungle, stopping along the way only to listen to more stories. Rapi the elephant tells Mowgli about Bagheera’s escape from the Maharana’s palace; Akela the wolf tells him how Baloo rescued his father from a group of villagers who had captured the older bear; Kaa the python talks about his experiences with a human snake-charmer. Barring a couple of places where the author has followed Kipling’s lead with an inaccurate translation (Raksha means “to protect” and not “demon”—Raakshas—as the text suggests), her follow-up makes for an engaging read, as Mowgli develops from a rather self-centered child to one who cares about his extended jungle family. Rundell’s values-based narrative and Williams’ earthy images reinforce the importance of different species’ understanding one another and working together.

Rundell emphasizes unity in diversity in this 21st-century companion to a complicated 19th-century classic. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0527-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

TIGER BOY

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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THE FIRST CAT IN SPACE ATE PIZZA

Will extragalactic rats eat the moon?

Can a cybernetic toenail clipper find a worthy purpose in the vast universe? Will the first feline astronaut ever get a slice of pizza? Read on. Reworked from the Live Cartoon series of homespun video shorts released on Instagram in 2020 but retaining that “we’re making this up as we go” quality, the episodic tale begins with the electrifying discovery that our moon is being nibbled away. Off blast one strong, silent, furry hero—“Meow”—and a stowaway robot to our nearest celestial neighbor to hook up with the imperious Queen of the Moon and head toward the dark side, past challenges from pirates on the Sea of Tranquility and a sphinx with a riddle (“It weighs a ton, but floats on air. / It’s bald but has a lot of hair.” The answer? “Meow”). They endure multiple close but frustratingly glancing encounters with pizza and finally deliver the malign, multiheaded Rat King and its toothy armies to a suitable fate. Cue the massive pizza party! Aside from one pirate captain and a general back on Earth, the human and humanoid cast in Harris’ loosely drawn cartoon panels, from the appropriately moon-faced queen on, is light skinned. Merch, music, and the original episodes are available on an associated website.

Epic lunacy. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-308408-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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