Rudyard Kipling was as famous in his time as JK Rowling is today - perhaps even more famous.
Rudyard Kipling's daughter, Josephine, would ask him to tell her stories in bed at night.
Rudyard would make up fantastic tales about how the world began and how animals became the way they are. If ever he told the story a different way, Josephine would stop him and say, "Not like that, Daddy. Tell it Just so!"
And that is how the Just so stories came to be. Rudyard wrote them down and published them in magazines. Eventually the stories were collected into one book which Rudyard Kipling illustrated it himself. The Just So Stories is one of the most famous books in the world. The language is a little bit old-fashioned now, so Shoo has carefully brought the stories up to date. Most of the words are still Rudyard's but the very old-fashioned words and ideas have been taken out.
This is not a happy story. Josephine was Rudyard's favourite child. In 1899, they both fell ill with pneumonia. She became weaker and weaker and, after about two weeks, she died. She was only six years old. Rudyard was so ill that no one told him about her death in case the news might make his condition even worse.
Rudyard had two other children, Elsie and John. When John grew up he wanted to join the army and fight in the First World War. The army did not want him because his eyesight was so bad. Because Rudyard was so famous - he was a friend of the King - he managed to get the army to take John on as an officer. John died at the battle of Loos when he was only 18.
Rudyard was very sad for the rest of his life. He blamed himself for making John feel it was his duty to go to war even though he couldn't see very well.
Rudyard Kipling was born in India where he was bought up by an Aiyah or nanny who taught him Hindustani. When he was six, Rudyard was sent back to England to a foster home from where he went to school. Shoo was brought up in Pakistan by an Aiyah and became a full-time boarder at school at the age of five, so Shoo feels he understands Rudyard quite a well! Rudyard returned to India and became a journalist. He grew up to be a very famous writer. His most famous book is probably the Jungle Book, which was the inspiration for the Boy Scout movement and which Walt Disney later turned into a film.
Kipling won the Nobel Prize, the highest honour any writer can hold. Rudyard Kipling died on January 18th 1936. He was given the honour of being buried at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey alongside Blake, Wordsworth, Charles Dickens and many more of the nation's greatest poets and writers.
Elsie married Captain George Bambridge and spent much of her life sorting out Rudyard's papers and restoring Wimpole Hall, near Cambridge, which she left to the National Trust. You can visit Wimpole Hall today. The National Trust also look after Batemans, Rudyard Kiplings house in Sussex. You can also visit his house, Naulakha, in Vermont, USA.
Rudyard Kipling illustrated the Just So Stories himself. You may notice that he got it slightly wrong! The elephant in his picture is an Indian Elephant but the story about How The Elephant Got His Trunk is set in Africa with an African Elephant. The Just so stories were written a long time ago and people expected different things in books. In those days they liked the way the stories were written for Josephine with all the private jokes between a father and a daughter. Now, parts of the stories seem quite strange. You can read the originals and compare them with shoo's re-tellings. Some ideas had to be changed to. In the story of How the Elephant Got his Trunk, there was a lot of spanking! No children's book would have that kind of violence in it today.
Shoo felt that if Rudyard Kipling were alive today he would have edited his stories in much the same way as Shoo has. Rudyard was a very professional writer and understood that it was important to write in a way that his readers could understand and enjoy. That is why he was so successful.Shoo has re-illustrated eight of the Just So Stories. To make them look modern and different, he illustrated them on the computer using a program called Adobe Flash.