A fearful, family togetherness is regained, when Ida's hornpipe helps her recover her baby sister from kidnapping by grotesque, Grim-Reaper, goblin-babies.
Sad over her father's absence, Ida fails to watch her baby sister, whom the goblins steal. Leaving a sickeningly eerie, ice replica baby in the sister's place, the goblins escape through a window that displays images reflecting Ida's moods. In dreamy pursuit, Ida hears her father say, "...catch those goblins with a tune". Frenzied dancing to her hornpipe turns the goblins (also babies) into "a dancing stream". Bizarre events –she arrives in a goblin wedding– and odd phrasings make this story pointlessly freaky. Also see, Where the Wild Things Are, it is not as benign as some reviewers suggest.
In this Brambly Hedge episode, an unusual snowfall enables quaintly humanized mice to stage a snow 'ball'.
Quaintly humanized mice in a hedgerow experience a major snow. Tunneling beneath the snow they find it is deep enough to pitch together and carve out a giant chamber for a snow 'Ball'. Imaginative as the scenario is, the fantasy is for fantasy's sake –it's themeless. The author deserves an award for her detailed illustrations, but they are the most interesting part of the book.
A timid boy is manipulated by Anna and is unable to act, until a 'magic' feather bumps him into copying her ability.
Anna Banana drops in and out of a little boy's life, as childhood acquaintances often do. But that nod to reality detracts from the young reader's ability to follow the purpose of the story. Their eyes closed, Anna imagines a dreadful goblin, scaring the boy. When she leaves him, only the 'magic' touch of a feather emboldens him enough to open his eyes and act. A disintegrated plot and vague finish undermine any positive implications.
This time it's a girl, Suchen, who experiences a strange magic that enables her to rescue the prince.
That Suchen drew maps with her father only strengthened her desire to see the world –even to see "Turnings" from where no adventurer has returned. After she sells the Prince a map to "Turnings" the king demands her death, believing the prince will not return. She promises to retrieve the prince, and has great adventures en route. This good story collapses at its climax when Suchen, using no apparent means, defeats the powerful Turnings witch queen. It's deus ex machina, without deus! Were the magic woven into the Universe of the story, it could have made the A-list. The 'medieval fairytale' art is terrific!
Children familiar with common fairy tale characters might enjoy finding them hidden in the mediocre illustrations.
Children can hunt for fairy tale characters lightly hidden in the uninspiring illustrations. However, there is little benefit in children knowing those characters until they are older, and then only for cultural reasons. The uninspiring rhymes repeatedly address finding the character. There are better ways to encourage a child's powers of observation.
Student antics lead a principal to trick them into appreciating their normal teacher.
The teacher is away and the class is bored by the female substitute (who is the principal). The kids create a disguise that resembles their teacher. The principal falls for the disguise, so the kids take off. When their real teacher sees them, and calls in, the principal doesn't believe her. She returns to class as the frightful Viola Swamp and scares the kids into behaving. Things return to normal, but no point emerges.
The decency of the successful shoemaker is defined by his charity to two elves, who secretly made the shoes that made him rich.
Two elves secretly make such excellent shoes that the poor shoemaker can sell them at twice the amount he normally asks. This continues until his business is a success. In gratitude he & his wife make clothes for the elves, who happily take the shoes and are never seen again. The theme is not very evident, because it is not clear what makes magical elves able vs. needy. Nor is there any apparent reason for the elves to make shoes for him. LaMarche's illustrations are a justification for buying this book, if art is one's primary concern.
Michael leaps into a muddy sandbox and 'becomes' Puddleman, until rain cleans him enough for lunch, ...and repeat.
While squishy mud may be worth experiencing, Puddleman takes the experience into something of a fantasy. Michael enjoys being the mud monster, "Puddleman", but is so unrecognizably muddy his Mum denies him a peanut butter sandwich. Magically (?) rain cleans him off, and after he has eaten he is back to his muddy ways. The story may address boyish fun, but there is nothing meaningful on which boys can grow.
Mountain echoes convince Bear the moon talks to him, then similar contrivances result in their 'exchanging' birthday gifts.
Bear decides the Moon should have a birthday, and travels to a mountain-top so he can ask what it wants. Asch carefully chooses Bear's wording to the moon, so that mountain echoes appear to offer answers. Similar contrivances give Bear and Moon the same birthday, with both wanting a hat, which they appear to exchange, and then lose. Though well-liked, the story's reliance on artifice takes unfair advantage of a child's credulity.