The Pied Piper by Stacking Books in conjunction with The Candlestick Company, rewrite the timeless classic, to introduce older preschoolers and early elementary students to the art of verse and the origination of idioms. Did you know that the story may have been based on fact? I am not pulling your leg here; it seems that something did go down in Hamelin. As early as in the year of 1284, the story began to appear and soon took on the characteristics of a legend. We may never know for sure what exactly happened; but a church window, a house (built in 1604 and dedicated to “The Piper”), and centuries of retelling this story all point to the importance of a promise and the consequences of deception.
The story of The Pied Piper by Stacking Books, begins with the options of Read to Me, Read Myself, History (of the legend of the Pied Piper), and Games. An adorably drawn little rat hangs in the upper left corner of the story pages to allow you to scroll through any page or activity you should want to revisit. The artwork, narration and soundtrack are gorgeous and professionally done. The icing on the cake is that the artwork is done on muted tones of parchment paper and gives the book a sense of ancient import and a story to be listened to or read. You can almost feel the history of the story as your fingers dance along the page. I really appreciate how the interactions are purposeful to the story and going from page to page is not always a linear process. Children really need to tune in, look and listen to progress in the story. The verse itself is lyrically written in rhymes that are well done and not overly thought out as in many children’s books. I love how it also introduces idioms, those phrases that initially perplex children within the verse. The narration is well paced and conveys just the hint of an ancient storyteller relating the tale and will insure independent replay. The original soundtrack complements the pages and adds texture to help bring the story to life.
On opening we see our cozy village from afar…but WAIT! On closer inspection you may begin to smell a rat, and indeed rats there are. They are fouling the waters, getting into foodstuffs, and scaring children whilst they sleep. (Here is a nice interactive touch of a magnifying glass where in looking through it, you get to view the antics of the rats.) The Mayor and his counsel gather together to find a solution, they need a ray of hope if there is any possibility in dealing with these rats. When in strolls a man of a different breed, the Pied Piper wearing a coat of yellow and red. A bargain was soon reached that if the Piper could rid Hamelin of the rats, they would pay him 1000 guilders. And so the Piper did as they requested, and when it came time to pay the Piper, the Mayor refused to pay. And with that…The Pied Piper played a different tune, and we all know what became of that. While reading the story, it is a great time to discuss “What would you do?…or…What do you think of that?” as the story is rich in opportunities to discuss social norms and values. Honesty, integrity and the need to follow through with a task are just a few of the topics young kids can understand and discuss.
There are 2 games included to extend play, a chance to play the Piper’s tune on a pipe and a memory game. Both are excellent choices for facilitating both visual and auditory memory and processing. In Play the Pipe, once you tap play, a tune plays out. It is then your job to remember and replay the tune. The memory game is the classic card game with 16 cards with illustrations from the story. Gross motor play can also extend the story with a following the leader – using marching, skipping, or singing back a tune to the leader as you follow.
The Pied Piper by Stacking Books is truly an original telling of the classic tale and one that will be in my permanent rotation. You can also check out their website: www.stackingbooks.com for more information on their publications. I am really looking forward to experiencing more from this developer in a digital format. And with that I say, “Give it a shot, its fantastic!”
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.