The Jungle Book, a half-assed comparison

Now I will be the first to admit, I haven’t actually finished reading Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ but I certainly have got far enough to realize that this is one very well written novel. Especially in comparison to the 90’s Disney cartoon version.

I do love the film and all, but as with many children’s stories, it doesn’t seem to reflect the real world in many places at all. And at the risk of sounding very boring, but developmentally, it is more beneficial to children to be exposed to ‘real’ things: films of real animals, displaying real animal behavior. Or else you run the risk of thinking that vultures enjoy nothing more than a good sing and dance with a kid. Yes, I am greatly exaggerating, but young children really do not know much better, and most children find real things much more interesting than invented monsters and places.

Reminds me of Britain's got talent, not exactly natural

Though I could never say that the original book could be an accurate reflection of reality for a baby abandoned in the jungle, it is much closer to what could perceivably happen. It has been known for wolves to accept humans into their packs, as happens in the book, and many animals have been known to ‘foster’ cubs of other species.

Wolves can accept humans into their packs

In the film, Bagheera (the panther) sees a baby and takes it to a wolf family in the hopes that they would adopt him. Really, the panther would have eaten him right up! Whereas if the baby was already adopted by the wolves (like in the book) the panther would see the boy growing up in a wolf pack and so may treat him much like he was a wolf. This is the same as with the tiger Sheer Kahn. A tiger would not take on a full wolf pack, for one ‘wolf’, but may lure the pack away from the chosen ‘wolf’ so as to take him. In the book, the tiger essentially tries this by turning Mowgli’s pack against him, thus leaving him open to attack as his pack will no longer stand up to him.

As well as a better understanding of social hierarchy, the book also benefits from better formed characters. Instead of a lazy slob whose main interests are food and music, the Baloo of the book is clever, teaches all of the cubs the law of the jungle, and is strict with the cubs but cares deeply for them. Even the ‘stupid’ monkeys may ring true to a certain extent, as monkeys *do * have a short attention span, however smart they are. Also, with the exception of big cats they have little predators to speak of. Such as in the book.

On a very pernickety note, banana trees only grow *one* bunch (that is several tiers high) of bananas in its whole life. Do the research Disney!

As a piece of media, I much prefer the original. Deeper plot lines, believable, and just overall more interesting. I dare say you could even get one with pictures in. A little death threat by a tiger shouldn’t rule it out for children, he doesn’t die.

So why do so little children know of the original Jungle book story?

Even if the book doesn’t strictly adhere to real life, it is much closer; and we can see similarities in our human lives and that of the fictional character Mowgli that we don’t find with Disney.


Are there any other great children’s stories that need to be brought forward, and why do you think that true type stories seem to be passed over by parents for the more made up fantasy stories?


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