Forget, if you can, the Disney version, both cartoon and live action. Forget, too, Korda's 1942 live action film, though it was better (for its age) - they are all aimed at children, yet this book is red in tooth and claw, and not for the faint hearted, or easily upset modern child. Mowgli's entry and exit to the Jungle realm is bought at the price of a life, a hearkening to ancient rites.
And Kipling's beasts and birds may talk, and have their own laws and customs, but they are unmistakably animals. And the wisdom they impart to Mowgli is still relevant today:
"When Baloo hurt my head," said Mowgli (he was still down on his back), "I went away, and the gray apes came down from the trees and had pity on me. No one else cared." He snuffled a little.Tomorrow, P is for Poetry.
"The pity of the Monkey People!" Baloo snorted.
"The stillness of the mountain stream! The cool of the summer sun! And then, man-cub?"
"And then -- and then they gave me nuts and pleasant things to eat, and they -- they carried me in their arms up to the top of the trees and said I was their blood-brother, except that I had no tail, and should be their leader some day."
"They have no leader" said Bagheera. "They lie. They have always lied."
"They were very kind, and bade me come again. Why have I never been taken among the Monkey People? They stand on their feet as I do. They do not hit me with hard paws. They play all day. Let me get up! Bad Baloo, let me up! I will go play with them again."
"Listen, man-cub," said the bear, and his voice rumbled like thunder on a hot night. "I have taught thee all the Law of the Jungle for all the Peoples of the Jungle -- except the Monkey Folk who live in the trees. They have no Law. They are outcastes. They have no speech of their own but use the stolen words which they overhear when they listen and peep and wait up above in the branches. Their way is not our way. They are without leaders. They have no remembrance. They boast and chatter and pretend that they are a great people about to do great affairs in the jungle, but the falling of a nut turns their minds to laughter, and all is forgotten. We of the jungle have no dealings with them."