Jul 24, 2013

#TheList, No. 179: The Jungle Book/ No. 730: The Graveyard Book

I had never read The Jungle Book before last week and I still have yet to see the Disney movie (I do know the "Bare Necessities" though).   Going into the book, I only knew that the two were markedly different, Disney having deemed the book version too dark for the animated movie. Other than that, I was clueless.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it because I do approach the "classics" a bit begrudgingly.  But when you read them on your own and not in the confines of school, they are more enjoyable.  Anyway, I enjoyed it! A collection of stories featuring anthropomorphized animals to spell out morals.  They're entertaining, easy to follow, and can be read apart from each other (although the Mowgli-centric tales rely on each other to an extent).

I was incredibly surprised by "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," the story about a brave mongoose protecting his human family from cobras.  Way back in 2nd and 4th grade, I watched an animated version of this story. Every now and then I would flashback to it and want to know what it was called, but would always get distracted and forget to look it up.  Now I know it's from The Jungle Book and I am in awe.  

The chapters are pretty long for storytelling, but I think a great children's librarian could make it work.  If anything, it could be a great theme for a long-running program complete with an amazing bulletin board that kids could help design.  Maybe the kids could come up with their own modernized versions of the morals.

That being said, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is inspired by Kipling's work.  I knew this ahead of time, which is why I read The Jungle Book first.  It's not necessary to do so, but it is nice to see where the two works connect and it's a great tidbit to tell patrons if they ever check out The Graveyard Book.  Sidenote: a huge part of what I do is making sure that someone has read the beginnings of series or is aware of related materials.  A lot of times children or teens pick up something that looks cool or is on the "New Books" shelve without realizing that there are other parts to read first.

Unlike The Jungle Book, The Graveyard Book doesn't work in pieces.  It has a narrative that runs throughout, with a clear beginning and end. It does, however, explore the same morals of family and protection that are found in Kipling's work.  In this book, a young boy's family is murdered and the ghosts of a nearby graveyard take in the live baby to protect him.  We follow "Nobody's" growth in the graveyard, the lessons he learns from his ghostly protectors, the friendships he acquires, and the help he tries, with various success, to give to both the live and dead.  It has Gaiman's signature dark twists, but the core of the novel is quite similar to The Jungle Book.  

I would highly recommend it to readers/fans of The Jungle Book, provided they were able to handle the darkness, i.e. children having The Jungle Book read aloud to them probably aren't ready for the Gaiman version.  

No comments:

Post a Comment