Avril doesn't even have a name-day -- she's a despised orphan with a hateful aunt and uncle. The only sensible thing to do is to run away with Lamb and Cat. Since Monsieur Crick-Crack, the genie of the keyhole, once gave the unwanted child the gift of animal talk, conversation among them is effortless. Cat picks up the narrative after their escape, describing with a catty sophisticated irony Avril's impracticality and their discomfort. They pick up a baby ghost, Ectoplasm or Bigoudi for short, but are rebuffed both times they try to stage a freak show; finally they flee to the mountains and meet Farou, the bear. Farou seems to understand everyone's needs: he sends them all home except Avril whom he keeps for a few more months. Her return is greeted with reproaches and threats, she's locked in the attic, then exiled to the orphanage, but accompanied by a small just-orphaned cousin -- someone she can love. Fantasy is nicely balanced with Cat's sense of humor, but the wicked foster-parents framework, even amusingly exaggerated, seems hopelessly hackneyed. A petite French import imaginative and clever except for the situation.