The Just So Stories for Little Children are a collection written by the British author Rudyard Kipling. Highly fantasised origin stories, especially for differences among animals, they are among Kipling's best known works.
The stories, first published in 1902, are pourquoi (French for "why") or origin stories, fantastic accounts of how various phenomena came about. A forerunner of these stories is Kipling's "How Fear Came," included in his The Second Jungle Book (1895). In it, Mowgli hears the story of how the tiger got his stripes.
The Just So Stories typically have the theme of a particular animal being modified from an original form to its current form by the acts of man, or some magical being. For example, the Whale has a tiny throat because he swallowed a mariner, who tied a raft inside to block the whale from swallowing other men. The Camel has a hump given to him by a djinn as punishment for the camel's refusing to work (the hump allows the camel to work longer between times of eating). The Leopard's spots were painted by an Ethiopian (after the Ethiopian painted himself black). The Kangaroo gets its powerful hind legs, long tail, and hopping gait after being chased all day by a dingo, sent by a minor god responding to the Kangaroo's request to be made different from all other animals.
Kipling illustrated the original editions of the Just So Stories. Other illustrators of the book include Joseph M. Gleeson.
Just-So Stories Edit
How the Rhinoceros got his Skin, woodcut by Kipling
- How the Whale Got His Throat — why the larger whales eat only small prey.
- How the Camel Got His Hump — how the idle camel was punished and given a hump.
- How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin — why rhinos have folds in their skin and bad tempers.
- How the Leopard Got His Spots — why leopards have spots.
- The Elephant's Child/How the Elephant got his Trunk — how the elephant's trunk became long.
- The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo — how the kangaroo assumed long legs and tail.
- The Beginning of the Armadillos — how a hedgehog and tortoise transformed into the first armadillos.
- How the First Letter Was Written — introduces the only
characters who appear in more than one story: a family of cave-people, called Tegumai Bopsulai (the father), Teshumai Tewindrow (the mother), and Taffimai Metallumai, (the daughter). Explains how Taffimai delivered a picture message to her mother.
- How the Alphabet Was Made — Taffimai and her father invent an alphabet.
- The Crab That Played with the Sea — explains the ebb and flow of the tides, as well as how the crab changed from a huge animal into a small one.
- The Cat That Walked by Himself — the longest story, explains how man domesticated all the wild animals except the cat, which insisted on greater independence.
- The Butterfly That Stamped — how Solomon saved the pride of a butterfly, and the Queen of Sheba used this to prevent his wives scolding him.
- The Tabu Tale (missing from most British editions; first appeared in the Scribner edition in the U.S. in 1903).
As well as appearing in a collection, the individual stories have also been published as separate books: often in large-format, illustrated editions for younger children.
- The Just So Stories were adapted as a 1984 musical, called Just So.
- A video edition was released, originally on VHS tape. It had three tapes with four episodes on each.
- The Elephant's Child was made into a Soviet cartoon in 1967 from Soyuzmultfilm studio.
- The Cat Who Walked by Himself, a Soviet drawn animation screen version created by Aleksandra Snezhko-Blotskaya at Soyuzmultfilm studio in 1968
- The Cat Who Walked by Herself, a Soviet animated feature film based on "The Cat that Walked by Himself" from a film studio "Soyuzmultfilm"
Just So Stories has been broadcast several times on BBC1 and BBC2 from 1992 - 2001, CBBC on Choice premiered Just So Stories on Monday 14th February 2000 at 8.45am, 11.45am and 2.45pm until Friday 25th February 2000. It's next showing was on Wednesday 23rd May 2001 at 9.20am, 12.20pm, 3.20pm and 6.20pm until Friday 8th June 2001. and the final showing was Friday 9th November 2001 at the same times like the last run until Friday 16th November 2001.