Stories for the fun of it, retold by ""a scholar of Medieval, Arabic and Hebrew literature,"" and if that seems incongruous, consider the contest of Heart and Mind that closes the book; whenever one gains the ascendancy, the poor peasant loses out, but when they unite all goes well. The outcome is clever, and pithy, and so are these 34 short and slightly longer tales generally, some familiar in structure with a novel, often local twist, others representative only of universal stupidity or chicanery or astuteness. Like the story of the poet who is repaid for flattery by a promise of riches, the one as much a lie as the other. Several tip off the reader not to take them seriously: ""Once upon a time, when the monkey was hairdresser and the hen watchmaker, when the sheep was beadle and the blackbird coal merchant. . ."" begins ""Two Watermelon Stories,"" a gross exaggeration. The sources are Turkish and Arabic and Persian primarily but the collection as a whole does not duplicate any other. One might wish for more than six illustrations (those distributed unevenly), and for a book more than chastely functional in appearance. However, children with their wits about them will be hugely entertained.