Porte (Tale of a Tadpole, 1997, etc.) combines 15 ancient and original Chinese folktales in this fanciful collection. In ""The Rescue of a Concubine,"" the course of true romance is often a hazardous one; young lovers Amina and Dayan risk torturous deaths and the emperor's anger to be together, and only the intervention of a supernatural force saves the pair and delivers them to freedom. In ""The Importance of Bravery When Facing Down Ghosts,"" Porte recounts how a stranger she met on an airplane told of his family's inheriting a beautiful vase, once the property of a terrifying ghost; that the vase was later destroyed during the Cultural Revolution seems both an appropriate and metaphorical ending. ""The Two-Parasol Person"" is somewhat silly, showing how, by carrying two parasols with her, Su-Ling enables herself and her new husband to survive a tornado (by flying up the funnel). More effective is the chapter recounting the history of cricket fighting. Readers will be fascinated by the descriptions of the delicate brushes, plates, and silver coffins that were the final resting place for crickets lost in battle.