In the rush to digital storytelling, traditional tales are being used as sources, but without creative injections of...



Has anything been added to the classic Hindu epic of kidnapping, rescue and true love in this latest incarnation?

The Ramayana has been retold for thousands of years through oral storytelling, dance, shadow-puppet plays, theater, films, picture books and graphic novels. The beautiful Sita is stolen by the 10-headed demon Ravan, and Ram, her husband, must try to rescue her. The Monkey God, Hanuman, and his many followers aid him. In this app, two contemporary children listen to Hanuman narrate the story and occasionally appear in the story, which is viewable with and without narration. The narrator is difficult to understand at first, but as the story continues, the Indian-accented voice draws listeners into the complex tale. The children don monkey masks, and one of the few interactive actions allows users to pull the masks away from their faces, triggering a sound effect. Some pages, particularly some of the battle scenes, feature animation, though there are no add-on activities to enhance the story. There is a button that enables readers to return to any page. The illustrations are attractive, but the stylized characters are static. A few pages are very dark, obscuring the action.

In the rush to digital storytelling, traditional tales are being used as sources, but without creative injections of technology, the medium doesn’t enhance the message: Skip it. (iPad storybook. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 2, 2013


Page Count: -

Publisher: Amar Chitra Katha Pvt. Ltd.

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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