When Bhajju Shyam, a renowned artist from the Gond tribe in central India, accepted a commission in London, what followed was a series of firsts for the artist: his first time on an airplane, his first time in a Western city, and his first experience being a foreigner. Shyam approached each new situation with a sense of wonder and awe, and has captured his travels beautifully in The London Jungle Book, a picture book sure to be treasured by both children and adults.
Originally published in limited release in 2004, The London Jungle Book will reappear this May to take new audiences on an unforgettable journey through the streets of London. Shyma is curious about every aspect of life in London – from the weather to the way British people conduct themselves in public – and in order to better understand his surroundings, he makes comparisons to his own life and traditions, resulting in incredible illustrations that blend London objects (such as Big Ben) with traditional Gond images.
But The London Jungle Book is more than a beautiful picture book. The accompanying text tells the story of Shyam’s adventures in London and provides fantastic insight into each image, allowing readers to learn both about the Gond culture and the joy that comes when we take the time to delight in small, everyday experiences. Taking its title from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which was set in the central Indian forests Shyam calls home, The London Jungle Book serves as a charming volley of Kipling’s perspective, as Shyam depicts London as its own kind of jungle, filled with adventure, mystery, humor, and joy, making this a perfect book for travelers and those of us who wish to see our own surroundings from a fresh perspective.