Legend upon legend upon legend . . . in a slim, small-print picture story that doesn't get down to business--the thirty gilt pennies--until the middle of the book. First comes the author's explanation of incongruities, inconsistencies and improbabilities; then comes a hypothetical introduction to ""the (14th c.) boy who collected legends,"" John of Hildesheim, and some of the legends he may have heard, including that of the ""three bony fingers"" of the three kings in the cathedral; then comes the title story as adapted from John of Hildesheim's agglomerate Story of the Three Kings. In a run-through of the Biblical chronology the thirty coins appear and reappear, extrinsically linking Abraham and Joseph and Solomon; they are presented by Melchior to the infant Jesus, by the priests to Judas; lastly, tainted, they are dispersed--to purchase a potter's field and pay the soldiers who guard Jesus' tomb. Granting the interest of the legend(s), it's hard to envision an audience for this embodiment: it has too much apparatus for the casual reader attracted by its appearance, and mismatches historicism and ingenuousness. Outside of a church or Sunday School setting, the response is likely to be sparse.