Great Illustrated Books


By Rudyard Kipling, Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

HarperCollins, 1997
Pages : 48
Suggested Ages: 6-10
ISBN: 0688143202

Travel to India to introduce listeners to Kipling's classic tale of a stalwart mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, who saves Teddy, a little English boy, from the deadly cobras, Nag and Nagina. The little mongoose is first rescued from a roadside flood by Teddy's parents, and since the motto of the mongoose family is "Go and find out," the curious Tikki adopts the house and family as his own. A mongoose's job is to fight and eat snakes. When he overhears the two cobras plotting to kill the human family and raise their 25 hatchlings in the house, the mongoose responds quickly and with deadly force, fighting and killing Nag in the bathroom of the bungalow. With the aid of tailorbirds Darzee and his wife, Rikki then finds and dispatches with the cobras' eggs, and outwits Nag's wife.

Pinkney's grand watercolors of the chilling battle between Rikki and the cobras may scare some snake-phobic adults, but children will relish the drama. A ripping good yarn, this is an abridged version of the story, which means the language isn't as formally British, making it accessible to younger kids. Older readers will want to search out Kipling's far longer and more ornate original text in The Jungle Book , first published in 1894. There's a splendid illustrated version online at

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Kipling, Rudyard. A Collection of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. Candlewick, 2004.

Kipling, Rudyard. The Elephant's Child. Harcourt, 1983.

Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. Dover, 2000.

Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. HarperCollins, 1995.

Kipling, Rudyard. Just-So Stories. HarperCollins, 1991.

Kipling, Rudyard. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. Illus. by Lambert Davis. Harcourt, 1992.

Pinkney, Jerry. Aesop's Fables. Chronicle, 2000.

Pinkney, Jerry. The Lion & the Mouse. Little, Brown, 2009.

Pinkney, Jerry. Little Red Riding Hood. Little, Brown, 2007.

Critics have said

Exotic flora borders garden baths; a few details--an antique inkwell- -exemplify the period; yet the true strength of the large watercolors is in the framing of deadly fighting and impending attacks. Pinkney puts his heart into a story he loves, and makes it live again.