Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is a finely crafted fable that can be enjoyed by older children and adults alike. As in most classic fables, we live the bulk of the story through the animals, in this case those of the woodland and jungle, but there are a few two-legs, as the animals refer to them, rounding out the force of good and evil. The reader never quite discovers what Mungai, the creature who sets the story in motion, is; we just know he’s bad news. For purely selfish reasons, Mungai aligns himself with Goa, a boa constrictor, who for equally selfish reasons, conspires with Mungai to lie to, flatter, entice, and persuade the good animals of the woodland to follow them to the forest to do their bidding with promises of many rewards and an easier, better life. The animals slowly become aware that the only ones their hard work appears to benefit are Mungai and Goa. Still, they are grateful for the meagre scraps of food and flattery Mungai has given them, and rather than trust their own doubts and intuition, they continue to do his bidding, even ignoring a trusted friend who discovers the truth and tries to warn them. When the animals finally do realise the truth, they band together with some of the good two-legs and devise a plan to stop Mungai, Goa, and the bad two-legs before they can destroy the forest.
Curzon deftly shows us how easy it is to be taken in by flattery and the promise of more for less, even when the voice in our heart and head is telling us something isn’t right. She offers up the age old battle of good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, and the fine line that is straddled between them. We are reminded that if something sounds too good to be true it probably is, and that we need to trust our instincts because evil will always be out there, looking for its next victim. This is a quick read and one I thoroughly enjoyed.
October 24th, 2011