A deliberately farfetched uproar about the consequences of Mortimer the raven's coming home one night with the taxi-driving father of little Arabel Jones. Mortimer, who croaks "Nevermore" at appropriate intervals, eats stairs and traffic lights and the escalator at the tube station. He is kidnapped (or "flyjacked") by two masked robbers who are terrorizing the town, but traps the pair later in the same tube station's lift. He roller-skates through the-multi-story car park, gets stuck in Auntie Brenda's chimney and costs Mrs. Jones two jobs, but is -- inexplicably -- so clear to Arabel who pulls him about in her little red wagon that only his comforting presence saves her from death. The scenes of parental hair tearing and throat clutching build up to an epidemic of hysteria when Mr. and Mrs. Jones go off to the Furriers' Freewheeling Ball, Arabel and Mortimer and babysitter Chris Cross step out to the milk machine (which so amuses the raven that Arabel continues to pour change -- won from the slot machine -- into other machines for gumdrops, cigarettes, photographs, you name it), and their absence from home sets the Joneses, their fellow revelers and the fire and police departments running in circles to a confusion of rumors about deadly gas, poisoned cheese and a gang of gorillas from Swanee Arabia. There is enough clutching for hilarity here that some of this is bound to be funny, but the family's indulgence of the tiresome bird is hard to credit and their distraction is too often just mechanically madcap.