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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Just So Stories For Little Children Volume II, written by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Ian Wallace. Groundwood Books, 2014. $ 19.95 ages 6 and up

"Then the Head Chief cried and sang, "Taffy, dear, the next time you write a picture-letter, you'd better send a man who can talk our language with it, to explain what it means. I don't mind it myself, because I am a Head Chief, but it's very bad for the rest of the Tribe of Tegumai, and, as you see, it surprises the stranger."

This post has not much to say about Rudyard Kipling's stories. They have been shared for more than one hundred years, and are appreciated with each new generation for their wit and longevity.

In this second volume, Ian Wallace as their illustrator has included the final six "Just So Stories': 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. These stories each help to explain the way in which things of the world originated and were created for Mr. Kipling's daughters.

In an illustrator's note that follows the stories, Mr. Wallace extols the 'fertile imagination' of the writer and offers an explanation for the thread that runs through his artistic interpretation:

"I have used my art to create connections between the stories. Characters and artifacts from one story periodically appear in another. This sometimes means that an object or character from one part of the world appears in another, or that objects from one story may suddenly appear chronologically earlier or later than you might expect. Watch for the leopard butterfly flying through all six tales, as well as other animals from the first volume such as the Elephant's Child and the Camel without his hump."

The artist uses mixed media (watercolour, pencil crayon, pastel pencil and chalk) in varying combinations and one predominant color for each of the tales; the environment dictates color choice. The full page framed illustrations are light infused and seem almost magical, in keeping with the tone of the stories. The rich colors and intricacy of the drawings bring these stories to the children of a new generation, and will be enjoyed by all. 
Be sure to check out Ian Wallace's blog post about his stay at Mr. Kipling's house in Vermont. It's here:

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