How The Elephant's Child Who Walked By Himself Got His Wings

by Peter Eastman

2020

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Interactive Just So stories, December 8, 2020
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2020

This is a delightful set of fables, done in what sounds to my ear at least a note-perfect ventriloquizing of Kipling’s Just So Stories voice. There are real opportunities for interactivity – the player inhabits the role of the child to whom the stories are being told, and gets to interject an excited choice when the narrator prompts them for input in the story. It’s a very natural, elegant device, and in fact while some options are merely cosmetic, there are a couple that determine which of the five stories on offer (I think – I replayed a second time and didn’t see anything obvious I missed) you wind up seeing. Of course, each ends up just-so-ing into the appropriate place, but that’s sort of the nature of just so stories.

But while the use of choice is canny, it’s really the prose that’s the main draw here, and I felt like every page had something that made me smile. There’s a call-and-response bit between the whale and the tiger that’s got a great rhythm to it, an understated bit of dialogue as the capybara and anaconda come to grips with the natural order of predation, and a crocodile offering help who (Spoiler - click to show)turns out to be a reptile of his word!

There are a few scattered typos – “infinte” for “infinite” once when describing the sagacity of the whale, and there’s an errant capitalized “he” in the middle of a sentence about everything the tiger ate. But very few as such things go – this is a smoothly put-together thing, in design and in writing. The author even gracefully takes on the less-savory aspects of Kipling’s legacy in a non-didactic, but very much appreciated, coda. Very much worth playing!