Monday, June 20, 2011

A Swastika in The Jungle Book -- Free on the iPad -- What?

Dave scans the great read aloud list for 4 year old over at Melissa Wiley's blog. He tells me he's going to read aloud The Jungle Book to Oatsie. I come in later and they're finishing up some tales from Pooh.

"What happened to The Jungle Book?" I asked later.

"Well, I was kind of put off by the swastika frankly -- on the opening page."

Some of you might be saying, "Oh, please. The old Kipling and the Swastika story -- if I've heard it once I've heard it a million times," especially your librarians, your media specialists, your Kid-Lit Literati. Alas, I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Was Kipling a Nazi sympathizer?" I mean, yes, The Jungle Book movie always hit that racists chord but Nazis? I had to know -- at that exact moment.

I googled Kipling's swastika and much to my relief, I found this:

From Wikipedia:
"Many older editions of Rudyard Kipling's books have a swastika printed on their covers associated with a picture of an elephant carrying a lotus flower." [Dave did not mention said elephant and lotus flower. Swastikas can be very distracting, howeve.] "Since the 1930s this has raised the possibility of Kipling being mistaken for a Nazi-sympathiser, though the Nazi party did not adopt the swastika until 1920. Kipling's use of the swastika was based on the Indian sun symbol conferring good luck and well-being; the word derived from the Sanskrit word svastika meaning 'auspicious object'. He used the swastika symbol in both right- and left-facing orientations, and it was in general use at the time.[64][65] Even before the Nazis came to power, Kipling ordered the engraver to remove it from the printing block so that he should not be thought of as supporting them. Less than one year before his death Kipling gave a speech (titled "An Undefended Island") to The Royal Society of St George on 6 May 1935 warning of the danger Nazi Germany posed to the UK."

And there you have it. Once less set of Nazi ties to a children's book author that I have to worry about.

Read on, my friends to your various 4-year-olds -- or, you know, try to.