A sunset-colored cover beckons readers to a newly illustrated edition of the classic collection.
The wraparound jacket presents a surreal dreamscape that encapsulates the transformations Kipling describes in his stories. On the back, a humpless camel and short-nosed elephant enjoy a moonlit dip, while their reflections reveal hump and trunk; on the front, a short-legged kangaroo, smooth-skinned rhino and spotless leopard likewise appear above their transformed reflections. Within, readers will find six of Kipling’s tales: “How the Whale Got His Throat”; “How the Camel Got His Hump”; “How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin”; “How the Leopard Got His Spots”; “The Elephant’s Child”; and “The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo.” Each story is illustrated with four luminous, full-color paintings, most occupying a single page in the manner of old-fashioned color plates. Also like color plates, the specific scene illustrated is indicated with a representative selection from the text. Wallace invests each scene, including the humorous ones, with poetic gravitas and refrains from anthropomorphizing his animal characters. Herons scattering above the Elephant’s Child, nose clutched tight in the Crocodile’s maw, indicate his very real danger; the Ethiopian solemnly marks the Leopard’s coat with his fingers. An illustrator’s note explains the genesis of the book and his artistic approach to each individual story. Volume 2, completing the collection, is due out in spring 2014.
An elegant, timeless treatment for all those best beloved. (Short stories. 5 & up)