This week’s Throwback Thursday is a children’s classic that explains why cats just don’t care for their owners. It’s Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.
Be careful when you pick this one up- Kipling has written a kids book here, not a book that kids should like. We learn how the leopard got his spots, why the camel has a hump, and why cats have servants instead of owners (in case you’re wondering, its because when mankind tamed all of the other animals cats were not having any of it. That’s cats all over for you, isn’t it?).
There’s no subtext here, just a bunch of short stories that kids will like. But as ever with Kipling, there is a twist. Kipling has written a book for kids that adults should like. It positively sings with poetry – like when we learn how elephants got their trunks:
In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn’t pick up things with it.
Or when we learn that Australian kangaroos have no manners, and just ask for massive favours without any of the customary ps and qs:
He went to Nqa at six before breakfast, saying, ‘Make me different from all other animals by five this afternoon.’
Or when a Sailor is eaten by a whale:
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…
Just brilliant right? Just so.