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Image depicting Book Review: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling

Book Review: Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling


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“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” a mesmerizing tale by Rudyard Kipling, unfolds the adventures of Rikki-Tikki, a courageous mongoose. Kipling, a celebrated British writer, excels in vivid storytelling. He deeply understands India’s culture and geography.

In this story, Kipling delves into bravery, loyalty, and the timeless battle between good and evil. He skillfully weaves these themes into a mongoose’s remarkable journey.

Listen to the book review

Introduction of Characters and Setting

  • Rikki-Tikki’s Unexpected Journey: The story begins with a young mongoose, Rikki-Tikki, who finds himself uprooted from his home by floodwaters. This incident introduces him to the setting of the narrative – a garden belonging to a wealthy British family in India. Kipling expertly uses this scenario to set the stage for the events that follow, highlighting the unpredictability of nature and its impact on the lives of creatures, big and small.
  • Discovery and Adoption by the British Family: The flood brings Rikki-Tikki to the attention of a young boy from the British family, who rescues and adopts him. This event marks the start of Rikki-Tikki’s new life and the relationships he forms with the human characters in the story. Kipling portrays this moment with warmth and empathy, showcasing the bond that can form between humans and animals.
  • Introduction of the Antagonists, Nag and Nagina: In his new home, Rikki-Tikki quickly encounters Nag and Nagina, dangerous cobras. Kipling presents them as more than villains. They symbolize the natural world’s hidden dangers. This introduces the story’s main conflict.

Conflict and Themes

  • Rikki-Tikki’s Mission to Protect: Recognizing the danger that Nag and Nagina pose to his adoptive family, Rikki-Tikki bravely decides to protect them. Kipling uses this plot point to delve into themes such as courage, loyalty, and the protective instincts of animals. Rikki-Tikki’s actions are portrayed as selfless and heroic, embodying the virtues of a guardian.
  • The Struggle Between Good and Evil: The confrontation between Rikki-Tikki and the cobras symbolizes the timeless battle between good and evil. Kipling weaves this theme into the narrative, showing how Rikki-Tikki, despite being small, takes on the formidable challenge of facing his adversaries. This aspect of the story highlights the moral that courage and determination can overcome even the gravest of threats.

Literary Elements and Audience Considerations

  1. Rudyard Kipling’s Storytelling and Jerry Pinkney’s Illustrations: Kipling’s command of language and imagery is evident throughout the story, making it engaging and vivid. Complementing his words are Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations, which add depth and realism to the narrative. The synergy between text and art in this story enhances the reader’s experience, making the characters and settings come alive.
  2. Blend of Adventure and Emotional Depth: The story is rich with adventure, suspense, and emotional moments, especially in the interactions between Rikki-Tikki and the human characters. Kipling balances these elements to create a narrative that is both thrilling and heartwarming. The emotional depth of the story is one of its most compelling features, appealing to readers of all ages.
  3. Content Advisory for Young Readers: The story captivates, yet it holds unsettling elements for young children, especially the cobra scenes. Kipling’s realistic depiction of nature’s dangers calls for parental guidance. This caution readies readers for the intense, occasionally frightening scenes essential to the story’s conflict.


Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling masterfully blends adventure, emotion, and moral lessons. It emerges as a classic tale, captivating a diverse audience across ages and cultures. Kipling’s narrative prowess, enhanced by Jerry Pinkney’s vivid illustrations, renders this story a treasured literary work.

Importantly, it entertains and educates, marking its significance in any reader’s collection.

This story stands as a tribute to Kipling’s lasting legacy as a storyteller. It reflects his deep insight into the resilience and courage of the human spirit.

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