Elizabeth lived in the Gay Nineties in ""a dingy house next to a railroad track."" The trains shrieked past regularly and her four identical little brothers, in Elizabeth's charge while their mother worked, added to the continual din and refused to reveal which one was which. The illustrations are stunning in more ways than one. While Elizabeth is captured as a thin and lonely waif and the boys are identically demoniac, the colors (especially in the use of orange and black) hint at the awful pressure of noise that Elizabeth endured. It drove her to confide her frustration to figurines of a King, Queen, Princess and Horse that she kept in a toy palace under her bed -- asking them how she was to tell the boys apart and how to stop them from tormenting her. Acting on the advice of the Horse, Elizabeth decides to try ""give and take"" and successfully fellows through to the real meaning of that phrase. A nice blending of nonsense, fantasy and message, artfully packaged.