I was fascinated with India from early childhood, mainly because of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book stories that my dad used to read to me every night before bed. Translated to Russian, the stories of little Mowgli preserved exotic Indian atmosphere – the jungles, monsoons, dangerous tigers and mischievous bander-logi (monkeys). Naturally when my daughter Shannon was born, I wanted to continue our family tradition and read these amazing stories to her. At 11 months, Shannon is still mostly attracted to “Touch & Feel” board books, with colourful large images, so I went on a hunt for appropriate adaptation of Kipling’s classic for early readers. When I could not find a version that would appeal, I had no choice but to make my first attempt of creating a board book from scratch.
Equipped with cardboard paper, scissors, glue, and printouts of jungle landscapes I found online, I locked myself for several hours in the evening to create the book that I was hoping to use as a “canvas” for my future storytelling. I wanted to make the book free of actual written words, just with images and pop-ups so that I could introduce my girl to all characters step-by-step and perhaps tell different stories every time. I only included the names of the main characters with the first letters in big shiny paper, “alphabet-style” (e.g. big B for Bagheera, big K for Kaa the python, S for Sher- khan). As these stories involved lots of action, climbing and chases, I thought it will be a good opportunity to introduce new spatial words to Shannon, which are proven to drive kids’ early conceptual dimensional thinking. I ornamented the margins of the book with prepositions that would help me describe the story, a cheat sheet for myself to weave into my stories.
It took me well into the night to finish the 8-page book and half way down the process I was already anticipating how I would introduce it to Shannon the next morning. She seemed to enjoy it, but perhaps not as much as I was expecting (a reality check J). She played with it for 5-7 min, liked the Mowgli figure made with glossy paper (she tore it, reviewed carefully and even tasted it J ). However, I did not get a chance to tell many stories. Perhaps it is a bit early for my 11-month old. The big shiny letters in the book caught her attention for some time, but the real proof of whether she likes it will come if she selects the book again from her bookshelf. I am hoping that day will come soon as my husband and Shannon’s papa, the wildlife photographer, has already promised to take both of us to the actual Mowgli forest in Kahna, where Kipling was inspired to create his original stories.
– Katerina Folkman, mother of 11 month old girl