The Jungle Book has come full circle with the newest book from Disney Press. Rudyard Kipling’s classic novels inspired Disney 1967 animated feature. Both the animated film and the original book have inspired the new live action film, which is now in theaters nationwide. And completing the loop, the new movie has inspired this novelization, The Jungle Book: The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
Mowgli is a man-cub, a human child raised by wolves in the jungle. Shere Khan, a vengeful tiger, wants the boy dead because he will grow up to be a man and in his eyes, all men are evil. Baghera, the panther who found Mowgli as a baby, tries to return the reluctant boy to the man village. Along the way, Mowgli makes friends with a lazy bear named Baloo and encounters some new dangers in the deepest parts of the jungle. Being on the cusp of manhood, Mowgli will have to prove that Shere Khan’s prophecy is wrong, that he can be more than a common man if he wants to stay in the jungle.
Based on the screenplay by Justin Marks, writers Scott Peterson and Joshua Pruett have transformed the script into this chapter book geared towards ages eight to twelve. My favorite part of reading novelizations is spotting differences between the script and the final film. Sometimes there are many, as was the case with Maleficent, and sometimes there are few. The Jungle Book doesn’t feature too many parts that were cut from the film, but the most notable difference is that this version includes a backstory behind why Baloo and Baghera don’t get along. It also features Mowgli’s recurring nightmares, none of which are in the final film.
As a kid, I mostly read novelizations before a film came out when I couldn’t wait to see it. But when I was obsessed with a movie, I would sometimes read them over and over between theatrical and home video releases. The Jungle Book is so good that I probably would have read and reread this several times over. Peterson and Pruett have done a fantastic job bringing the film to life in written form and I highly recommend The Jungle Book: The Strength of the Wolf is the Pack to anyone who either can’t make it to their local theater, wants to learn what was cut from the film, or simply can’t wait to see the film again.