Justin is the author of over 30 books for children and young adults, including the hugely popular Extreme Adventures series.
I grew up in a house of books – well, three houses really, since the family moved twice as it grew larger; and the books went with us, of course. There’s a black and white photo of me, aged about 2, posing in front of our old blue Kombi during one of those moves. The rear of the Kombi is stacked with books.
Although you can’t see their covers, somewhere in that 1950s mobile library are the two Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling. I had the good luck, several years and one house-move later, to share a bedroom with my two elder brothers. Billy was a keen reader and an even keener story-teller, and often after lights-out he would recount to Philip and me a second-hand version of what he’d been reading that day. And this is how I first became acquainted with Mowgli’s wolf pack, with Shere Khan the tiger, with Baloo, Bagheera and Kaa; and with (always my favourite) that brave little mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
When I was old enough to read the stories myself, I rediscovered the Jungle Books through Kipling’s own voice and those of his characters – and enjoyed them all over again. And I still do. I have a 1932 hardback copy of The Two Jungle Books , still with its slip jacket, that I found in a Sunday market 12 months ago and which I dip into from time to time. But in my heart, I still enjoy Billy’s version best.
Justin’s latest book is ‘Mission Fox, Horse Hijack’ from Puffin 2011. Find out more by visiting Justin’s website: www.justindath.com