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TIMUN MAS by Dessy  Puspa


illustrated by Dessy Puspa & developed by LooLooChoo

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: July 31st, 2012
Publisher: LooLooChoo

An adaptation of an Indonesian folk tale with dreamlike storytelling and ripe animation that grows on you.

A childless couple wishes desperately for a child and is granted this wish by a horrifying ogre, who gives them a cucumber seed to plant. The catch? On her eighth birthday, the child must be turned back over to the monster. Unperturbed by this bum adoption plan, the couple plants the seed, and the beautiful, kind daughter it produces is named Timun Mas, or "Golden Cucumber." The ogre, of course, does return, but a wise man has given the family four items (including needles and shrimp paste) to help the girl fight him off. What follows is a chase sequence in which Timun Mas doesn't outwit or outfight her attempted captor, but instead drops the items behind her as she runs until the ogre is overcome, thus combining the tale’s obvious Rapunzel motifs with Baba Yaga ones. While the story doesn't exactly hold together and the text is flat ("Realizing that he had been fooled, the Ogre became angry"), the production is gorgeous. Clean, subtly colored and animated pages breathe more than enough life into the old story. It also doesn't hurt that navigation is nearly perfect, the narration is excellent, and the Ogre is rendered scarily enough to make for a tense pursuit.

Not all of the story makes sense or is told in a convincing way, but the package so skillfully balances whimsy with danger that it stays with readers. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)