Fisherboy Dylan relies on his own pluck instead of lucky charms and so saves the human-faced little spotted fish who then turns into a girl with "silver-gray hair and silver-gray eyes." But it's the marvelous fish monsters he battles -- Henstra's trio of gape-mouthed, metallic clockwork behemoths -- that give this folk pastiche a reason for being and demonstrate that conscious artificiality can have archetypal power. Whether Yolen had a similar interpretation in mind is difficult to say. Her moral -- that it's better to trust one's own skill than magic in dealing with the unknown -- is not so different from all those traditional tales about three wishes that go wrong. And the juggling of folk motifs (most obviously the Irish singing trout legend) and archaic language most often seems pointless and sterile. But this time all it takes is one look at those fish, like dazzling but horrible messengers from the subconscious surfacing in Dylan's mangrove swamp Eden, and it's no longer necessary to read between the lines.