The 10th-century Japanese folk tale about the shining moon princess will enchant young readers, even though technical problems mar this adaptation.
Long ago in ancient Japan, a bamboo cutter discovers a baby girl hidden inside a glowing stalk of bamboo. Taketori and his wife name the girl Kaguya, and she quickly grows to become as “lovely and pure as the morning.” Noble suitors soon arrive, drawn by Kaguya’s radiant beauty, and the young woman sets them arduous tasks to complete, as she cannot reject them outright. The emperor even arrives to ask for her hand in marriage, but Kaguya sadly reveals that she must return to her father, the King of the Moon, as her exile on Earth has now passed. This adaptation follows the traditional tale, although no source notes are provided, and it is available in Spanish, Japanese and English, narrated with word highlighting in each language. The richly colored illustrations are a mix of Western cartoon and Japanese anime styles; interactive features, such as coloring the princess’s kimono, likewise feel ambivalent at times, often doing little to advance the story. Navigation is hampered by the lack of a menu button; at the end of the app, readers must manually flip pages back to the beginning.
Nevertheless, the enduring appeal of this ancient folk tale shines through from beginning to end. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)