A sweet, whimsical tale set in one of Britain's uglier mill towns. As a girl, Bessie gets to know neighbor Mrs. Leaf when the old woman invites her to tea and tells her fascinating things about magic (""Have you ever had a magic moment? A summer afternoon when the sky's so warm the world stops..."") and the fairies (""Why, even I might be a fairy""). Bessie soon learns better than to share these revelations with her friends, but she treasures them. As Bessie grows up, marries, is widowed, and is finally old herself, Mrs. Leaf (now called Daisy) grows correspondingly younger until their appearances have reversed. ""Maybe old friends never notice the changes in each other."" There's an evanescent meaning here, not to be pinned down but still as real as imagination. Ross, whose art often serves boisterous hilarity, extends his range with evocative glimpses of the dreary factory town and the course of the long, poignant friendship. Touching and unusual.