A beloved illustrator of children's folk tales collaborates with a storyteller new to American audiences to create an entertaining picture book. Maria is a gentle soul, kind to everyone. Unfortunately, she is married to Simon, a woodcutter, who isn't. He's unhappy when her friendly instincts extend to a mouse, a squirrel, a hen and a rabbit, whom she feeds and whom he chases out of the house at every opportunity. One day, the four animals discover that there is no food waiting for them. A diligent search reveals a trail of cheese, the mouse's favorite, which leads them to the forest. When the cheese is gone, corn for the hen takes them farther, followed by lettuce for the rabbit and, finally, the squirrel's hazelnuts. Thus the four arrive at the castle of a knight whom Simon has insulted and who is imprisoning him until he learns a lesson. It is Maria, of course, who refuses to leave her husband, who has led them there; they pay back her kindness by freeing him. Simon learns his lesson even to the knight's satisfaction. A pleasant story with folkloric elements, though no discernible basis in folklore. Curie's language is simple and to the point; Watts' panoramic pastels serve it well. A lovely, if not particularly memorable, effort.