Though at times symbolic or only obliquely related to the adjacent lines, Manna’s graceful images lend luminous visual notes to Kipling’s stately prescription for maturity.
Originally addressed by Kipling to his son but equally applicable to people of either sex (and any age), the poem is cast as a series of generalized challenges and moral, stiff-upper-lip responses: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two imposters just the same….” The verses are presented with typographical flourishes in one to five lines per spread, with natural breaks that are neatly chosen to preserve the language’s flow. In the accompanying watercolors, a solitary, ruminative lad faces a prowling wolf, wanders among costumed puppets, plants a tree amid burned rubble, reaches out with balletic focus for something on a beach and scales difficult slopes to reach a mountaintop at last.
The poem is widely available in collections, but this rendition—an ethereal alternative to the edition illustrated with photographs by Charles R. Smith, Jr. (2007)—makes a lovely keepsake. (introduction) (Picture book. 8-12)