The magical storytelling and unforgettable characters in Ben Doyle and Richard Kurti’s audio adaptation of this children’s classic have been brought to life by many well known voices from British film, TV, radio and comedy.
Audible recommends an audience of 8 years+ for this title.
Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)
Audie Award, Excellence in Production, 2016
Audie Award, Audio Drama, 2016
Public Domain (P)2015 Audible Ltd.
About the Book
The Jungle Book
by Rudyard Kipling
Young Adult (YA)
March 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: The version read for the purposes of this review was the 2015 audiobook recording available on Audible.
As a child, The Jungle Book was one of my favorite stories, especially after I received a VHS copy of Disney’s animated version from my parents. That version of The Jungle book will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve seen the ’90s live action versions of The Jungle Book from Disney, the first being Mowgli’s Story made in 1998, and the other one being from 1994. The 1994 version had an all-star cast including Sam Neil, Lena Headey (most well-known for her turn as Cersei Lannister from the HBO series Game of Thrones), John Cleese, Cary Elwes (we all know him best as Wesley from The Princess Bride… #AsYouWish), and many others. When the latest Disney version of The Jungle Book came into being, like many others, I went to see it, and I have to say, it did reach my expectations. But, of course, there are differences in adaptations to every story from book to screen, and vice versa.
Talking about differences, even this new audiobook (or should I say audio drama from Audible) is different from previous adaptations in that it’s more true to its original source material. In this version, like the original, Bagheera is the one who is lenient and spoils Mowgli, and seems to always be on Mowgli’s side of things. An example of this is when he softens the blow of Baloo, who always told Mowgli to practice and repeat back to him all the rules of the animals in the jungle. Even though Mowgli is very smart when it comes to these subjects, he, like all kids since the beginning of time, he is sometimes guilty of laziness in the pursuit of intelligence. We’d all rather relax than study to keep our minds sharp like a whetstone is used to keep a blade sharp. Bagheera ‘softens the blow’ by telling Mowgli to show off what he learned from Baloo to him.
In this version, they also kept the original portrayal of Baloo, which was the role of the his teacher/mentor of the laws of the jungle. And he wasn’t only Mowgli’s teacher, he was the teacher of all the other younglings. It’s unlike any of the Disney versions of The Jungle Book, which all have Baloo as the lenient guardian to Mowgli. Not that I don’t like the Disney portrayal, I love it, and it will always have a special place in my heart.
In this Audiobook/drama of The Jungle Book, like its original version, they kept the role of Mowgli’s second mentor/ wise teacher to Kaa, who we all know as a minor nuisance or ‘evil’ character in the animated version, or as a ‘motherly-sounding’, double cross of a snake character in the 2016 live action version, being voiced by Scarlet Johannssen.
In this version, Kaa is voiced by Richard E. Grant, and to be honest he was a good choice for narrator. His voice makes the character of Kaa seem full of pride for himself, like a proud warrior/ noble-like character from the old world, and yet he sounds wise as a teacher to Mowgli—his original role that not many people know about, since most of us grew up with the Disney version of Kaa. And I’m not just saying he’s the perfect match because he happens to play a very snake-like character by the name of Lord Barkis from, you guessed it! Corpse Bride. So, to me, it was a nice change of pace seeing him play a good guy.
Along with Richard Grant, this audiobook/drama of the Jungle Book also stars a wonderful cast who collectively bring the characters to life in the two books that make up The Jungle Book! So, if you love the story of The Jungle Book, you may very well be quite entertained with this version. And I highly recommended this audible classic to anyone who is a lover of the classics, and those who love to take a trip down memory lane, to a time when they were kids who just love a good adventure story….
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