If we weren't told that ""these opinionated characters with modern-day problems"" were the creations of a 19th-century Danish storyteller, one might well assume them to be newly-hatched--especially the fiercely feminist spider of the first and longest story. Except, perhaps, that she has to hold her own--""I'm a woman used to making her way in the world""--against her neighbors' conviction that she'll be a ""sour,"" ""eccentric"" old maid if she doesn't marry, words no one utters any longer. But the story of her dispatch of twelve suitors, and short shrift to her servile husband, is set in an extraneous anthropomorphic framework that is both very European and very 19th-century: the Wild Parsley and the Tansy envy ""the real Bushes"" and ""very young tree Shoots"" that overtop them, and seek the Spider as a tenant in lieu of birds. And the illustration sets up still another problem: though the Spider supposedly spins her web between the two lowly weeds, we see it hanging between two trees. In the second story, the much-maligned Wind explains to a Mouse why he hasn't the freedom-to-act that others think--he's really ""a wretched slave"" bound to obey ""the slightest whim"" of the Sun--which doesn't prevent the Mouse, later, from maligning the Wind in turn. Even more ironic is the third tale--in which a rebellious ""little grublet,"" suddenly made Queen Bee, becomes the biggest snob of all. It's both the most eventful and the most cohesive of the lot; but all of this is both arch and long-winded--and the very sketchy, scatty cartoons are simply a mismatch.