Nine offbeat adventures occur in a fey but perfectly logical world, where very human children cope sensibly with magical events. An ill-tempered princess concentrates on her one skill: moving objects without touching them; but it's her kindhearted maid who, while carrying out an unreasonable order (dealing with a bathtub full of giant spiders), attracts a passing prince. A five-year-old queen is punished for teasing the cat: her hair screams, for years, till she first learns that she can bear it because she must, and then finds a creative use for it. Several of the stories deal symbolically (and sometimes enigmatically) with creativity; there's a boy in the habit of using short, rude words (they end in T: Dit, Fot, Sut) who learns in solitary silence the power of language, and a painter who has an ironic pair of encounters with a kelpie. On their primary level, these simple-seeming stories might have been written by talented children; Aiken's wildly original ideas are childlike in their inventiveness; but their skillful, thought-provoking combination is inimitably hers. A handsomely produced book; Berenzy's 11 white-on-black illustrations are delicately detailed, shining with the stories' bizarre humor.