Published by various publishing houses…

These are exceptional stories with sublime and gorgeous English. Kipling’s ability to colour his writing and his descriptive powers are simply phenomenal. The stories cover everything from the first alphabet, how the elephant got his trunk, the rhinoceros his skin, the leopard his spots, along with the story about the butterfly that stamped and of course The Cat that Walked by Himself. There were a dozen of them and I am always slightly disconcerted by the number of people who have either never heard of them, or, if they have, haven’t read them.

Everyone knows, or ought to know, how the elephant got his trunk – but do you remember the English that Kipling used?

From which story did this come?

Then the Bi-coloured-Python-Rock-Snake came down from the bank, and knotted himself in a double-clove hitch round the Elephant’s Child’s hind-legs, and said, ‘Rash and inexperienced traveller, we will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension, because if we do not, it is my impression that yonder self-propelling man-of-war with the armour-plated upper deck’ (and by this, Oh Best Beloved, he meant the Crocodile) ‘will permanently vitiate your future career.’

This one?

Still ran Dingo – Yellow-Dog Dingo – hungrier and hungrier, grinning like a horse-collar, never getting nearer, never getting farther; and they came to the Wollgong River.

In that story you can hear the pounding of the dingo’s feet…as he raced…

From which came this excerpt?

Behind them was the Tribe in hierarchical order, from owners of four caves (one for each season), a private reindeer-run, and two salmon-leaps, to feudal and prognathous Villeins, semi-entitled to half a bearskin of winter nights, seven yards from the fire and adscript serfs, holding the revision of the scraped marrow-bone under heriot (Aren’t those beautiful words, Best Beloved?).

They are poetry in the form of prose and should be read out loud to all children with parents of good taste…actually they should be read out loud to everyone. Regularly.