A note explains that, though there really was once a flood when a molasses tank exploded (with tragic consequences not mentioned here), Lent bases his fantastical tale on a story his mother told him as a boy. When the tank bursts, little Charley Muldoon fides out the flood atop his tall, slender brick house, shouting out warnings in time for people to escape. The house parks itself in a pleasanter neighborhood; the molasses, fortuitously mixed with snow, is scooped up and served in baked beans, gingerbread, and candy until ""he didn't care if he ever saw any again."" The story is certainly unusual, but the illustrations are of greater interest. Using closely related tones of brick and molasses imposed on pure white, Caldecott medalist Lent stylizes 19th-century Boston into toylike simplicity, somehow achieving not only elegance in design and the flavor of the city's bustle and architecture but also a cheerful, childlike air. Attractive and offbeat.