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)