Monday, June 21, 2010

How Did the Porcupine Get His Quills?

Just So Stories By Rudyard Kipling, Illustrated by Helen Ward
2001 (originally published in 1902)
Weight: Almost one pound
Method of Disposal: Shipping to Colorado as a gift for my niece
I will never forget lying on the cool hardwood floors of the “new” house in Duluth while my brother read Just So Stories to me. That house was always the “new house” even though we lived there for years, but it was the second house we lived in together. He had just written a story inspired by Rudyard Kipling for his 5th grade class, and he was very proud. I was in awe of him, which was not unusual for the time. Having never been exposed to Kipling, I thought my brother had just come up with an amazing hypothesis about why porcupines have spines—the original rodent fell off a tree into a pile of needles. I am sure the porcupine did something selfish to be in that predicament in the first place. Those animal ancestors were always acting up.
Every time I see this collection on my shelf, in a store, or made into photocopies I think of my brother who is now grown, in the military, and living in Colorado with his wife. They will have their first daughter, Bella, in a matter of months. Kipling is entertaining and clever no matter what your age is. This book made my brother seem mystical to me and, even though I know better now, I can still feel that wonder working its way through my body each time I read one of the Just So Stories. This hardback copy with color pictures belongs in Colorado where it can wait for little Bella to grow up to believe in morals, the emotionality of animals, and the true brilliance of her father.

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