Imo and the King is an interactive folk tale originating from East Africa and processed in North America into an all-singing, dancing moral tale.
Imo follows a well-known theme in fairy stories: boy gets girl and becomes a prince after passing three tests devised by the King. The three tests involve changing a pile of seeds into stones, chopping down a tree, and selecting the king's daughter from a crowd of identically-dressed girls.
The sub-plot contains a moral message about kindness. On his journey to the palace, Imo helps various magical animals and a genie. His reward is to be helped, in turn, to complete the impossible tasks set by the King.
The story is narrated by a character called Grandpa Mouse, who appears at the beginning and again at the end.
There are two modes, one where children can listen and watch the story, and one where they can interact with it by clicking on various "hot spots".
The quality of this title is good, with music that includes 15 original songs and charming animation.
It may be tempting for teachers to buy this CD-Rom to foster cross-cultural understanding, but care should be exercised.
The music used is definitely derived from black culture, but there's little here that an East African would recognise. And some may feel that certain aspects of African religious and ceremonial traditions have been trivialised.
However, Imo and the King is promoted as a good story which will develop reading confidence, and most five- to nine-year-olds should enjoy using it.
Folk tales have always changed as they move across the world. I wonder how long it will take before the kings in these stories become presidents?
Imo and the King is distributed in the UK by Ablac, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 2BP. Tel: 01626 332233