Just So Stories (1902)

The Just So Stories for Little Children are among Kipling’s best known and loved works. This recording is the first complete audio book of this title with nothing left out.

Kipling’s enjoyment in playing with the sounds and meanings of words is very evident throughout, and adds to adults’ enjoyment of these stories for children. This playfulness is also dramatically present in the plotting. For both reasons these stories been loved by generations of children and adults alike. Because the writing plays with sound and meaning the Just So Stories are best enjoyed when read aloud.

As we all are, Kipling was a child of his time and social setting, so for example in “How the Leopard Got his Spots” he uses what one recent reviewer called “the N word” to refer to the Ethiopian. Each listener will need to examine critically both Kipling’s attitudes and their own.

This recording of the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling includes Kipling’s descriptions of the pictures he drew for the book. These pictures can be found in a PDF file to accompany each chapter. As well as the twelve stories most often published under this title (from the first British edition) it also includes “The Tabu Tale” a thirteenth story (included in the first US edition).

The last story Kipling wrote “Ham and the Porcupine” is also a just so story, but has not usually been collected with the others, and perhaps lacks their verve and wordplay. The Kipling Society publishes an excellent freely available online edition with a good set of notes on the text.

The stories are fanciful, and not intended to offer historical, scientific or religious accounts of the way things became. They are simply and exquisitely stories to enjoy.

So please enjoy them in this reading.

April 2015: I am beginning to add versions with the pictures as video files.  So far I have done:

The links below are to the Librivox audiobook I read a few years ago.

M4B format available

Play01 HOW THE WHALE GOT HIS THROAT Tim Bulkeley 00:09:38
Play02 HOW THE CAMEL GOT HIS HUMP Tim Bulkeley 00:09:15
Play03 HOW THE RHINOCEROS GOT HIS SKIN Tim Bulkeley 00:08:06
Play04 HOW THE LEOPARD GOT HIS SPOTS Tim Bulkeley 00:14:53
Play05 THE ELEPHANT’S CHILD Tim Bulkeley 00:17:51
Play06 THE SING-SONG OF OLD MAN KANGAROO Tim Bulkeley 00:10:12
Play07 THE BEGINNING OF THE ARMADILLOS Tim Bulkeley 00:18:54
Play08 HOW THE FIRST LETTER WAS WRITTEN Tim Bulkeley 00:21:12
Play09 HOW THE ALPHABET WAS MADE Tim Bulkeley 00:26:05
Play10 THE CRAB THAT PLAYED WITH THE SEA Tim Bulkeley 00:25:50
Play11 THE CAT THAT WALKED BY HIMSELF Tim Bulkeley 00:25:37
Play12 THE TABU TALE Tim Bulkeley 00:31:19
Play13 THE BUTTERFLY THAT STAMPED Tim Bulkeley 00:23:50

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Read aloud: audio and video