A rousingly violent Eastern European folk tale laced with heroic exploits and treachery, kitted out with intricate, richly detailed illustrations.
Best known in its Ukrainian version, “Pea-Roll Along,” the tale features a pea-boy with a big mace. He pounds a dragon into an iron threshing floor, goes on to trap and then kill a long-bearded sorcerer in an underground kingdom, cuts off a piece of his own leg to feed a griffin and ultimately marries a princess. Despite rough spots in the translation (“Rolling Pea held up his finger and the mace struck his finger and a mace was chopped apart”), the story moves along briskly thanks to its plain language and steady focus on action. On the optional audio track a narrator provides a smoothly professional reading to which crisp sound effects and fanfares add well-placed flourishes. Along with one monochrome screen to color in and a game in which viewers use their own fingers to shatter falling maces, both the screens with text and the several wordless scenes offer numerous wheels, characters and natural features that move by themselves or respond to taps or tilts. Rolling Pea, feet invisible beneath huge green pantaloons, cuts a figure at once dashing and comical.
A thrill a minute, epic in scope but not length, and embellished with visual and digital delights. (thumbnail index) (iPad folk-tale app. 8-10)