Books by Isabel Brent

Released: Oct. 1, 1993

An edition distinguished by: (1) an intelligent introduction by scholar Neil Philip, pointing out the tales' links with Kipling family history and quoting a parody that appeared in Punch when they were first published (a ``Very-Nearly Story'' in which the ```defatigable Ruddikip'' addresses young ``Approximately Invaluable'' in ``decapitated polysyllables''); (2) two stories not included before: ``The Tabu Tale,'' a third story about Taffy (very long, even longer than ``The Cat...'' and the most didactic of all—Taffy learns to be still so that her father can hunt, one result being that it's possible to save her from a wolf), and ``Ham and the Porcupine,'' a why story that takes place on Noah's ark; (3) oversumptuous illustrations. The Just So's admirers will welcome the Taffy story; though it's not up to the others' caliber, the wordplay and parent-child interaction are amusingly characteristic. The briefer, brisker ``Ham'' is more fun; it makes a point of dark Ham becoming ``Emperor of Africa,'' with a typically euphonious string of place names. Brent provides postcard-sized watercolors—pretty but inappropriately static and humorless—that are completely overwhelmed by her elaborate gilded borders, to truly gorgeous decorative effect. Unfortunately, the art illuminates the pages but not the stories (which of course stand well enough on their own). A mixed success, but surely of interest. (Fiction. 4+) Read full book review >