In a cogent afterword, Moser explains why he has set his familiar story just after the Civil War: he wished, like Aaron Copland, to ""use an American idiom. . .in the not so distant past."" A valid approach, and certainly preferable to the condescending oversimplifications so often visited on Andersen in the name of accessibility. This is Moser's first attempt at retelling; the resulting story, tuned to a Tennessee lilt, has a laconic flavor and wry humor that surely would have appealed to Andersen, different as they are from his own. The witch has become a ""curmudgeon"" who falls from a cliff rather than being gratuitously murdered; the violence that precedes the soldier's elevation to mayor at the end has also been considerably muted, with no loss to I he story. In his usual style, Moser's beautiful paintings are not so much illustrations that carry the story forward as marching portraits and vignettes that give it added depth. A creative presentation that will appeal to storytellers and other adults as well as to young readers.