From the sheer absurdity of Uncle Dan's useless inventions (a bottomless glass, a toothless saw, a rubber ladder) to the playful grotesquerie of a tearful octopus grandmother, the tone and the pace of Hughes' eccentric family album is brisk and jaunty; still, the casting of sister Jane as a crow is not the only hint that this is indeed the same blood-and-terror Ted Hughes -- albeit on holiday. Although Mother's wildest feature is -- disappointingly -- her creativity in the kitchen (with such dishes as curried rattlesnake in Creme de la Cactus), Dad has a few hairy moments as Chief Inspector of Holes, and weirder yet are Aunt Dora who grows a prize weed that responds by devouring her, Uncle Mick who paints a tiger -- and his roar -- so lifelike that Uncle Mick is seen no more ("" 'The bigger the fright,' said Uncle Mick, 'The more it can inspire us' ""), and the ""horrible. . . yet very ordinary"" Aunt Flo whose two personalities, the proper tea party-church choir spinster and the witch who hangs dried human parts in her attic, are described in alternate chapters that regularly break free of the rhyme scheme just as Aunt Flo breaks free of propriety. (""You saw her in the distance? Just a glance? For certain/ You will wake up tonight with a frog in your mouth."") Overall, both the regular form and the naughty grisliness give Hughes' folks an old-fashioned British tone, but that doesn't really reduce the fun of making their dotty acquaintance.