Review of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
An English family, who have recently moved into a bungalow in India, adopt a waterlogged mongoose. Rikki is very pleased to become a house mongoose, and quickly adapts to his new life. When his new family is threatened by highly venomous snakes, including a family of King Cobras, Rikki heroically leaps to the rescue.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is a short story in The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. The entire Jungle Book is well worth reading, but this story in particular was a childhood favorite of mine. Rikki is the perfect pet. He is brave, loyal, kind, friendly and generally happy with life. Rikki protects his family, especially his boy, even at risk of death. He stays with his boy until he falls asleep, then is off to patrol the house. Kipling also depicts a number of anthropomorphic garden creatures, including Darzee the tailorbird, who can be rather flighty, but is a very good composer. He has a nice song at the end of the book. Five stars!
The original was illustrated by Kipling’s father, John Lockwood Kipling, and W.H. Drake. These are lovely, detailed sketches, and included in many of the public domain versions.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi has since been re-illustrated again and again, both with the rest of The Jungle Book, and as a standalone children’s book. For a full color version, I recommend the 1997 edition illustrated by Jerry Pinkney in watercolor. His art is gorgeous, with crisp lines and soft colors. Very realistic, too. (A nice collection of Pinkney’s art is currently displayed on digital tour via the Norman Rockwell Museum).