In "The Jungle Book," Shere Khan, a tiger, chases a young boy into the jungle where a wolf family saves him and raises him as one of them, naming him Mowgli. Father Wolf gets Mowgli accepted as a wolf by the Council Rock with the support of Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear. Although Mowgli lives with the fear of Shere Khan, he feels safe within the wolfpack.
Baloo becomes Mowgli's teacher and mentor and warns Mowgli that when Akela, the father of the wolves, misses a kill and loses his place as leader of the pack, the jungle will become dangerous for Mowgli. When that day comes, Mowgli protects Akela with fire and realizes he will one day have to live with humans again.
Mowgli then climbs a tree to make friends with the Bandar-Log monkeys, who carry him off instead. He has to be rescued by Bagheera, Baloo and Kaa the python. Later, during a drought, Hathi the elephant proclaims a truce among animals. As they all drink at the same watering spot, Shere Khan tells of his sport-killing of a man. When he leaves, Hathi says that the tiger got his stripes because of killing man. Mowgli eventually returns to live with Messua who believes he is her son Nathoo.
The book is a collection of stories, the first half of which concern Mowgli and are each followed by a epigrammatic poem. The book also contains the fables "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi," "The White Seal," "Toomai of the Elephants" and "Her Majesty's Servants."