Pinkney dwells on this story of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the sensible, brave mongoose adopted by an English family living in India. The animals speak to each other, so readers know how the little mongoose is aided by the tailorbird, Darzee, and his wife in escaping death from the menacing cobras who hope to kill the human family and raise their 25 hatchlings in an empty house. Excitement and danger ebb and flow throughout the illustrations for this classic story. The people are drawn with less vitality than the creatures, yet the stances and concerns of the human parents echo those of the animals for their children. Exotic flora borders garden baths; a few details—an antique inkwell—exemplify the period; yet the true strength of the large watercolors is in the framing of deadly fighting and impending attacks. Pinkney puts his heart into a story he loves, and makes it live again.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is an excerpt from Kipling's The Jungle Book, which we carry in a few different versions.