A tall tale about whales and other, unknown oddities, presented--in period style--as the reminiscences of one Roger Ward, age 18 ""in the year of our Lord 1874."" It's also presented, however, in the thin, flat format of a picture book--though the old-fashioned literary vocabulary and sentence-structure are demanding and the murky black-and-white pictures are no attraction. As a story, moreover, this lacks both the gusto and the cockeyed plausibility of a good tall tale. Best, probably, is the opening: Roger went to sea, he says, to get rid of the disfiguring mole on his nose: two sailors had assured him that ""the salty sea breeze would gradually wear [it] off."" Just a few lines later, though, we learn that he was tricked: the ship just needed an additional sailor. And the author's precipitate flip-flop doesn't augur well for the rest of the plotting--which simply brings us one adventitious incident after another. A ""sulphur whale,"" which has taken in too many fish (""The result was fermentation which created an enormous amount of gas""), blows up, floats in the air, and explodes; some luminiscent, intelligent ""jack o' lanterns"" appear, when Roger is in a whaleboat being towed by a whale, and one carries a message back to the ship's captain; a golden-haired, lightly draped ""goddess"" also appears, when he has gained the back of said whale, and variously aids the sailors. And, yes, Roger does lose his mole--though precisely why it does drop off isn't made clear. This is one effort, altogether, that's mostly effortful.