Riki, Tikki-Tavi

Written by Rudyard Kipling in 1894

Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Riki Tiki Tavipic

This is a story taken from The Jungle Book with which many adults are familiar. It involves a young boy named Teddy and his family who rescue a mongoose named Riki Tiki-Tavi. This poor creature has nearly drowned near their bungalow in Segowlee. The mongoose is an animal known for its tenacity, and Riki will prove his worth to the family who has adopted him.

The reader first learns of Riki’s rescue and the reluctance of Teddy’s mother to keep him. Riki proves a friend to the Tailorbird named Darzee who screams that the cobra snake Nag has stolen an egg from their nest. The snake’s wife Nagaina tries to ambush Riki and nearly kills him. More danger befalls him as a smaller snake named Karait attacks him. The family is impressed with Riki’s bravery. The young boy named Teddy brings Riki everywhere. At night Riki goes exploring and Chuchundra, the muskrat, tells Riki that the snakes plan to kill the humans so that they will have the garden to themselves again. It will be up to the fearless mongoose to protect the family and marshal all the animals of the garden together to defeat these nefarious snakes. Will Riki be successful in rallying this disparate group to protect the family and their habitat?

The digital edition was produced by Gere Donovan Press in 2012. It is also available in hardcover and print, which I would recommend to the fact that it includes the award winning illustrations of Pinkney. The Jungle Book is now in the public domain. In this edition the original language has been simplified, and I believe that children aged eight and up will not find it too difficult. Of course this does mean that some of the beauty of the Kipling’s writing is sacrificed. The lessons of fearlessness, loyalty and devotion to family as well as the local culture that the story imparts remain treasures to be shared by future generations. Adults should note that Kipling does display some violence in his descriptions.

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