Author: Rudyard Kipling
Illustrated By: Danuta Mayer
First Published: 1894, as part of The Jungle Book
Current Publication: Candlewick Treasures, 1997
Rikki-Tikki, a young mongoose, wakes up one day to find himself being swept out of his nice, warm home by raging flood waters. As luck would have it, the bedraggled creature washes up in the yard of a wealthy British family, and is taken in by their young son. Immediately Rikki takes to exploring the grounds, as any well-bred curious mongoose should, only to find a dark, hideous, discovery – his family is not the only occupants of the ground. The fearsome Nag and his wife, Nagina, a pair viciously conniving cobras, have just built their nest in the garden, and have no intention of sharing their home with anyone – man or beast. With the assistance of the other creatures living around the compound, Rikki sets off on a mission to rid his home of the vile serpents and protect his new family.
While a short story by just about any standard, this is probably one of my favorites. Perhaps it is because on a good day I have the attention span of a squirrel on speed, so the meager 60 pages of its length are just about right for me. Really, thought, I think it is because it is simply a very well woven tale that evokes rich imagery and brings my imagination to life. Kipling’s brilliant use of description, paired with his ability to create and develop characters makes for a read that is nothing less than bliss. Children will love this book, if for no other reason than it is centered on a cute, fuzzy mongoose, and adults will enjoy this because the story itself is intriguing and, in all honesty speaks to the adventurous inner child in everyone.
Having read this book several times and being able to say I enjoyed it just as much the fourth time as I did the first, I can quite confidently give this book a five page rating. If you have not read it, go read it. Now.