Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories on CD
Listen, O Best Beloved, to Jack Nicholson as he tells you bedtime stories like your very own cool-but-slightly-scary grandfather, when all the other kids’ grandpas are retired accountants who watch golf all day. Kipling is best when read aloud, and it doesn’t get any better than this. Nicholson reads Kipling’s "How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin" and Danny Glover reads "How the Camel Got His Hump." Bobby McFerrin’s a cappella accompaniment evokes vivid visual images of a snorting rhinoceros, while Ladysmith Black Mambazo conjures up great migrating herds with their songs.
When I was a child we had a set of Just So Stories on little 16 2/3 r.p.m. records that were the size of 45’s. I know these two stories were there, but what really stuck in my mind from those old records was the phrase "the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees” from "The Elephant’s Child." So I checked the library catalog, and there it was: King Midas and the Golden Touch; The Elephant's Child! And Jack Nicholson reads "The Elephant’s Child!" (Michael Caine isn’t bad, either, when he reads about the head of state with foolish fiscal policies.) Anyway, I had forgotten all about the Bi-Coloured Python Rock-Snake. I also felt smart that I knew about the kola kola bird because it was mentioned in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, and the wait-a-bit bush from the 1980 film The Gods Must Be Crazy. I have become quite worldly, actually, and I owe it all to Kipling.