Gr 2-4-Verma has based his retelling of the Sanskrit epic from ancient India, The Ramayana, on the translation of the 15th-century Hindu poet Tulsidass. The story, which scholars feel may date from as early as 3000 B.C.E., tells of the birth of Prince Rama, his marriage to the Princess Sita, and the adventures and trials that follow. Displaced as rightful heir to the throne because of a promise made by his father, Rama is banished to the forest for 14 years, accompanied by Sita and his brother Lakshmana. During their exile, Sita is captured by the evil Lord Ravana. With the aid of Lord Hanuman, a monkey/human with marvelous powers, and his monkey army, she is rescued and Rama slays Ravana. The celebration that follows, in which numerous oil lamps are lit, is said to be the origin of the Hindu holiday Divaali. Verma's tightly written text does an excellent job of bringing the story to children without sacrificing meaning. Unfortunately, the accompanying illustrations look as if they stepped directly out of a Disney feature and detract from the epic grandeur of the tale. With little else available, the book is an appropriate addition to folklore shelves but would work best as a read-aloud.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.