LibriVox (zipped mp3s or M4B)
Length: 5 hr, 2 min
Reader: Meredith Hughes
The book: In the winter of 1892, Rudyard Kipling was living in a small cottage in Vermont, the homeland of his new bride. In the midst of caring for his first child, born that winter, he must have been thinking about childrens' stories and his own childhood in British India. He published a collection of stories, mostly set in India, in 1894 as The Jungle Book.
The first few stories deal with Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. As he grows, Mowgli is taught the ways of the jungle by the wolf Akela, the panther Bagheera and the bear Baloo while fighting for survival against the tiger Shere Khan and the monkeys of the Bandor Log. Other memorable stories in the book include the brave mongoose Riki-Tiki-Tavi's fight against the cobra and the coming of age story set among the elephant-drivers in "Toomai of the Elephants".
I was less enthralled by the two stories not set in the jungle, "The White Seal" and "His Majesty's Servants". Apart from these two, the stories are entertaining and gently didactic, though more violent and harsh than most childrens' stories are nowadays. Kipling, I think, would argue that children can safely be exposed to some level of harshness, since it is their introduction to the Laws of the Jungle and the how the world works.
Rating: 8 /10
The reader: Hughes has a youthful-sounding American accent that is bright and cheery without being overwhelmingly saccharine. She doesn't perform extreme voices for the animal characters, but does inflect her voice to indicate dialogue. Her reading reminds me of a bedside reading of a favorite book for a child: friendly, warm, and fun.
(Entered in Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday. Click the link to see more book reviews.)