Kipling’s Just So Stories are among the most enduring classic children’s tales. They follow the traditional genre of stories that explain how unusual natural phenomenon came about, often using fantastic and highly magical explanations.
Kipling himself was born and spent his very early life in India, and some of the inspiration for these stories comes from traditional tales he heard from his ayah and the family’s other servants. So Kipling’s armadillo arises from the magical fusion of a hedgehog and a tortoise who practice swimming and curling up, respectively, until their shapes modify. The elephant’s trunk is the result of a tussle with a hungry crocodile, and the kangaroo’s shape and ability to jump came about when he was chased by a dingo for an entire day. The rhinoceros gets his loose skin and bad temper from the itching brought about by having cake crumbs under his hide. And the cat who walked by himself explains the independence of cats, which contrasts with the servility of other domesticated animals.
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