Run and Find Out!: A Review of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”

“To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.” – St. Teresa of Avila

Reading Level

Grades 3-5    [according to Scholastic which reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently.]

5.0    [AR]

Review and Comments

Rikki-tikki-tavi is a young mongoose who is welcomed into an English family after being separated from his own family during a terrible storm.  The father seems to know a lot about mongooses, and he assures his wife and son that it is a good thing to have a mongoose close by because they kill snakes.  This proves true when Rikki-tikki saves the young son from a deadly snake soon after he arrives.  The danger for the family is not over however. Rikki-tikki e and his adopted family soon experience life-threatening encounters with a pair of deadly adversaries.

Two large, sinister cobras, Nag and his wife Nagaina, live on the grounds near the house.  They do not want the family in the house and plot to kill them.  They reason that if the family is gone, the brash mongoose will leave the vicinity, and then their lives and those of their future children will once again be in their control.

Not everyone living on the grounds is an enemy. A brotherhood of sorts exists between a few of the other garden animals. First there is the Tailorbird couple, Darzee and his very gutsy wife, and then there is Chuchundra, a skittish musk-rat.  These brave souls assist Rikki-tikki with invaluable intelligence about Nag and Nagaina.

Life with the family is very comfortable for Rikki-tikki, but he is constantly on the alert for the dangerous confrontation he knows is inevitable.  Eventually he overhears Nag and Nagaina’s plot to kill the family and is determined to stop their assault. He is like a sentinel waiting … waiting … waiting. When the opportunity presents itself, Rikki-tikki kills Nag in a very intense struggle.  Nagaina wants revenge and almost succeeds in killing the entire family, but Rikki-tikki arrives just in the nick of time.  He bravely kills Nagaina in an extraordinary battle.  Rikki-tikki relaxes a bit because the immediate threat to the family is over, but he is always on the alert for future problems.

This short story, from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, is a great tale for boys and girls in this age group.  Rikki-tikki is an endearing character who exemplifies bravery, loyalty, and friendship. He is the kind of animal one would want for a devoted pet.  All the animals in the story possess innate characteristics and act according to their nature while the dialogue perfectly enhances their distinct personalities. The conflict between the characters is exciting and the resolution is very satisfying.

Possible Concerns  

There are no concerns with this story.

Further Discussion

The following sources may help with more information about mongooses:

  1. This site from KidCyber includes information about the mongoose including: a physical description, the food it eats, its life cycle, and a short film showing a fight between a mongoose and a cobra. The video is a good compliment to Rikki-tikki’s story.
  2. “Mongoose – The Snake Eaters” includes fun facts about mongooses. It includes photographs and a short video.
  3. “Mongoose Facts” gives information about habitat, habits, diet, and offspring.

Scholastic has a printable Read-Aloud play of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.”  Reading aloud helps children get excited about reading while practicing fluency, strengthening comprehension, modeling reading for others, and using one’s voice to tell a story – the best part in my opinion.  You can check it out here!

Choose your favorite character and write a paragraph about that character.  Include: name of the character, a description of the appearance, relationships with other characters, personality – strengths, weaknesses, virtues, etc.  Use descriptive adjectives.  Illustrate the character.

  1. Rikki-tikki-tavi
  2. Nag and/or Nagaina
  3. Darzee or his wife
  4. Chuchundra
  5. A member of the family

Catholic Resources

Patron saints of India:

  1. Virgin Mary as the Lady of Assumption
  2. Saint Francis Xavier (Dec. 3)
  3. Thomas the Apostle (July 3)

Saints who are protect us from snakes:

  1. Saint Hilary of Poitiers is the patron saint against snake bites. [January 3]
  2. Saint Paul is also the patron saint against snakes.  [Feast of St. Paul’s Conversion – January 25]
  3. Patrick is the patron saint against fear of snakes. [March 17]


CCC 1808 Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. “The Lord is my strength and my song.” “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”