Under the aegis of the late Jim Henson, here are nine stories that first appeared as The Storyteller TV series--traditional folk and fairy tales refreshed for a modern audience. Released now as an adult book, this appealing, abundantly illustrated offering is just as suitable for young readers. Minghella looks to a Tuscan proverb (``The tale is not beautiful if nothing is added to it'') for inspiration and, like Italo Calvino in Italian Folktales, adds to and alters the stories, most already available in standard collections--``Hans My Hedgehog'' and ``The Luck Child,'' for example. Some of his variations lack resonance on paper (the troll in ``The True Bride'' speaks in scrambled phrases like ``I'm founded dumb'') and distract from the prime-time themes of fear, trust, fidelity, etc. Most, however, are interesting even when they deviate from the classic story line (Hans has soft bristles and a devoted mother) and often enough Minghella's own language sets the tone: ``in a week with two Fridays,'' he writes, or ``Suddenly everyone could live forever'' or ``Beggars are never what they seem.'' Darcy May's 41 full-color paintings, rendered in a subtle palette, are elegant, expressive compositions faithful to the spirit of the stories and kin to several old favorites. Image for image, they don't quite match the spiritual quality and inner flow of, say, Nonny Hogrogian's (juvenile) The Devil with the Three Golden Hairs, and they lack the penetrating aspect of the (much longer) Segal/Sendak collaboration The Juniper Tree. Good company to these and others already on library shelves, they have a soft, distinctive look that should draw in readers of all ages.