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Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen

Kipling's Choice

by Geert Spillebeen

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12610146,984 (4.07)26
In 1915, mortally wounded in Loos, France, eighteen-year-old John Kipling, son of writer Rudyard Kipling, remembers his boyhood and the events leading to what is to be his first and last World War I battle.
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    Soldier X by Don L. Wulffson (joririchardson)
    joririchardson: The two best soldier books I have ever read - one from WWII, one from WWI.

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Kipling’s Choice is a non-fiction piece of literature. It was written by Geert Spillebeen and was translated into English by Terese Edelstein. Spillebeen does a remarkable job of retelling the story of John Kipling’s life, family and his time on the battlefield.
The story’s exposition starts with Lieutenant John Kipling in a heated battle against the Germans in WWI. The story mainly takes place in WWI, but also draws back on Kipling’s childhood memories at his home in England. His father was the celebrated writer Rudyard Kipling who wrote the story The Jungle Book . As John tries to lead the British forces to victory in his first battle, he is mortally wounded by an artillery shell. As he lies on the ground, slowly bleeding out, he thinks back to his childhood and teenage years, leading up to his adulthood and this current battle. It really develops the character of John and shows how he lived his life as a young boy, mostly carefree due to his father’s riches. As a young boy, his dream was to join the Navy, which was greatly influenced by his father. Rudyard always wanted to join the Navy, but was unable. As John grows older, his eyesight begins to fail him, and his dreams for joining the navy like his father always wanted to do were dashed. He tries mercilessly to get into a school that would train him to become a soldier. He eventually does become a soldier (an officer in fact by the rank of Lieutenant) and travels to the front to face the Germans. Will John survive his wounds? Pick up this book at our library to find out.
This book is excellent in relating the horrors of WWI and what it does to families. It can be slow at times when Kipling has his flashbacks to his childhood, but it helps to thoroughly develop the characters in the story. It can also be a bit gruesome at times when he describes the battlefield, due to the author’s vivd description of wounds on the soldiers of WWI. Even with these aspects, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes reading about any World War or someone who enjoys a good story. ( )
  ahsreads | Nov 30, 2012 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 7-12

Plot Summary: John Kipling, son of Rudyard Kipling, really wants to join the army but his eyesight is poor. He is excited when his dad's friend in Scotland offers him a chance to be a soldier. He goes through training and in his first battle, he is badly injured, apparently losing much of his jaw and mouth. He manages to survive with this injury and pain as people try to save him. This book is told in two voices. The dark bold font, which begins the book, starts with John getting his life-threatening injury in his first battle. The normal font starts when John is about 14, getting his eyes tested, and continues until John is about to enter his first battle.

Setting: England, Scotland, and France, 1914-1918

John Kipling - 17 when entering training, poor eyesight, wants to fight for his country, becomes Lieutenant
Rudyard Kipling - "daddo," John's father, famous author of The Jungle Book, wealthy, spoils John by buying him cars, wants his son to be a soldier since he wasn't able to be one himself due to his poor eyesight
Mummy - John's mom
Elsie - John's sister, drives John's Car-uso (car), becomes family chaffeur
Mayor of Acquin - John stays with the mayor's family while nearby training
Celle - Mayor's daughter, very aggressive romantically towards John
Rupert Grayson - John's friend, in same battalion

Recurring Themes: war, world war II, trenches, The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling, death, family relationships, letter writing

Controversial Issues:
pg 21 "A tango is very sexy when you try it in slow motion. He grasps Miss Malone firmly around her middle and furtively sniffs her delicate perfume when she leans against him."

pg 34 "To their bewildered readers they dish out so-called reports about German atrocities: villages burned to the ground, rapes."

pg 47 "nightly escapades at...pricey nightclubs. When he and Ma think about their frail boy, they are reminded that 'in the army you become a man.' ...He laughs heartily at the nightly hell-raising in Car-Uso...His little boy is becoming a man."

pg 63 "Here's to the Kaiser, the son of a bitch"

Graphic description of John's injury and pain. ex: pg 92 "His whole body shakes. John can't cry out, for all that remains of his mouth, nose, and thraod are some holes and patches of raw flesh." pg 112 "A second later there he was, blown to pieces."

There are also a few damns and maybe a few craps.

Personal Thoughts: I originally picked this up because an 8th grade LA teacher said it might be too graphic for some students in our school. I agree that the book is graphic, but I think our students are accustomed to violence from the movies. It might be a little different hearing the voice and the pain from first person, but I believe the boys who pick up his book are looking for it.

I was a little confused a few times about what happened, since there are many characters and things aren't always explicity explained, but I definitely understood the overall plot and most of the details.
  pigeonlover | Mar 4, 2010 |
A fictionalized account of the death of John Kipling, Rudyard Kipling's son, during World War I. The story begins with the end, then moves between Kipling's dying thoughts and memories of his life. This is a very, very sad book, made more poignant by the fact that his father pulled so many strings to get him into the war, and he experienced only one battle (although, from recent accounts that I've been reading about World War I, one battle would have been quite enough). It's interesting to see how John goes from being a spoiled young man to being a fairly well-respected lieutenant. This was a quick read, and although I can't call it enjoyable, I am glad I read it. ( )
  tloeffler | Oct 25, 2009 |
Engrossing and quick read about Rudyard Kipling's son and his experience in World War I. ( )
  ahooper04 | Apr 1, 2009 |
This novelization of the life and death of John Kipling, Rudyard's son, in the fields of battle in WWI, ranks in my opinon with The Red Badge of Courage, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Johnny Got His Gun. It is highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Prop2gether | Mar 16, 2009 |
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