Favorite Just So Stories
illustrated by H.B. Vestal
Grosset & Dunlap, 1957
Was a big fan of If in high school and always loved the Just So Stories, so I snapped up this copy as soon as I saw the handsome animal illustrations on the end pages. From what little I can piece together from searches on the internet, it seems Mr. Vestal was a military illustrator during WWII, and the books he went on to illustrate from their reflect that.... Moby Dick, Kipling, etc. I particularly like the illustrations for the "How the Whale Got His Tiny Throat" story.
Then the whale opened his mouth back and back and back till it nearly touched his tail and he swallowed the shipwrecked mariner, and the raft he was sitting on, and his blue canvas breeches, and the suspenders (which you must not forget), and the jackknife -- he swallowed them all down into his warm, dark inside cupboards, and then he smacked his lips -- so, and turned around three times on his tail.
The Just So Stories were first published in 1902, and Kipling has a long history of being labeled as creating racist characters and the like... (Who remembered that's how the leopard got its spots?) All the same, these books are old for a reason, the tales they spin are universal and everlasting. The face might be a little dated, but the soul still holds true.
Look Out For Pirates!