Back in the days when ""stepmothers were wicked and stepsisters were mean,"" this particularly shrewish pair tries to eliminate uncomplaining Little Sister by sending her out into the January snow to gather violets and fresh strawberries. Wandering in the snow, Little Sister gets help from the twelve, impressively robed Month Brothers. But when stepmother and sister are greedy enough to go out and ask for more strawberries, they never return. In time they're replaced--not by a handsome prince, but by an ""honest farmer"" who ""sometimes. . . hollered or grumbled or complained, but not very often."" The sly realism of this conclusion fits well with de Regniers' thrifty retelling and the gently tongue-in-cheek depiction of Little Sister's trials. It's too bad that someone (author? illustrator?) thought it necessary to embroider the obvious by echoing the text in melodramatic captions (""Courage! I must go on"" . . . ""Oh! These must be the Month Brothers""); their overuse soon becomes annoying and the idea that they might ""serve as a springboard for creative dramatization"" is depressing. Still, a modestly satisfying tale.