An impressive collection of stories by the award-winning author. These are tales worthy of classic status, each a delightfully unique, almost magical experience. There are cozy, ordinary country villages, engaged in extraordinary, oftentimes wondrous doings; a witch's room in a Manhattan high-rise, far above the traffic, which contains no windows or doors, only a single, slender chimney; and a canal barge covered with all sorts of flora and fauna, including the last two remaining chimney cuckoos and a rare Nemean lion named Ulysses. Washington Square, the Louvre, a rare bookshop, and the many chimneys of a lavish country house in England are also settings in which the familiar becomes the fantastic. Aiken's universe is populated with crafty witches; charming, smart, spunky, even craftier children; sensible animals who, quite naturally, talk to each other and to their masters; and a pair of recalcitrant, less-than-servile domestic robots. Other characters include a ballet dancer who discovers the price of overweaning ambition and eventual fame; a poor chimney sweep whose sad life is dramatically altered for the better by an avuncular St. Nick; a slightly slap-happy sheep named Melba; and a huge black cat called Nero who would be king. High comedy, blissfully low farce, wit, whimsy, warmth, and wisdom abound in these enchanting stories. Aiken aficionados are sure to love and treasure this collection; indeed, the author may find herself with a bumper crop of new fans as well.