This fluent British version of ""The Fisherman and His Wife"" features only two characters: a discontented old woman living in an uncommonly large vinegar bottle, and an obliging fairy who provides her with increasingly palatial housing--but sends her back where she came from when she demands to be Empress of the Universe. MacDonald (The Storyteller's Sourcebook, 1982, etc.) is in fine form, preceding the tale with a learned discussion of variants and other editions, and then rendering it in a rapid, comic style--""But when the fairy came near/there sat the old woman . . . complaining./'Oh what a pity!/What a pity pity pity!' ""Fowlkes's illustrations, in reds, yellows, and purples, spill energetically from their wide frames, centering on the old woman's determined--and in the end, chagrined--countenance, every bit of space crammed with pattern and color. Excellent for reading aloud or alone.