July 04, 2014

Just So Stories: Volume II

Stories by Rudyard Kipling
Illustrated by Ian Wallace
Groundwood Books
140 pp.
Ages 5+
April 2014

Though there are numerous versions of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, I truly believe that Canadian artist Ian Wallace has created the quintessential illustrations for Rudyard Kipling's classic children's tales, just as he did in Just So Stories: Volume I  (Groundwood, 2013).  

In this second volume of the two-volume set, the six stories included are: The Beginning of the Armadilloes; How The First Letter Was Written; How the Alphabet Was Made; The Crab That Played with the Sea; The Cat That Walked by Himself; and The Butterfly that Stamped. For each story, Ian Wallace provides six full-page illustrations and manages to find ways to connect elements within stories as well as between them. From the wonder of the young Painted Jaguar for the armadillo, to the bold turbulence of the misbehaving sea and the adoration of Balkis for her husband, Ian Wallace matches Kipling's details with his own. Sadly I believe that, as the Head Chief claims in How The First Letter Was Written,
"pictures are not always properly understood." (pg. 45)
and only Ian Wallace can fully explain the depth of his illustrations. 

However, judging by his extensive Illustrator's Note at the conclusion of the stories, Ian Wallace gave great thought to more than the content of the stories.  He pays homage to Kipling by including original illustrations, to the history of the Paleolithic Era, to Maurice Sendak, to the geography of the stories, and to the wonder of children. By considering so many elements, both apparent in the text and not so, Ian Wallace has ensured unsurpassed richness in his volumes of Just So Stories

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