The Apple Stone is one of those fantastic finds for English children--a talking stone whose touch ""animates the inanimate."" Jo and Missie and Jeremy take a bite and so do ""the Clans"" (Douglas Macdonald and Nigel Campbell, visiting Scots cousins) and after the appropriate references to classical predecessors (Pygmalion, Achilles, Daedalus, etc.) they try it out. Having parents who are puppeteers gives them a superior edge (""We're fond of our Mom and Dad, and hope they may grow out of it in time"") but when they begin to experiment they are just as curious and tentative as any other children, and just as surprised at unforeseen consequences. The actual animations are not especially clever--e.g. a bird on the housekeeper's hat--and despite the progressive complexity of their work (an elephant bookend who longs for his ""other,"" a gargoyle on a tower) the story itself is episodic rather than cumulative in its impact. Eventually weary from use, the Stone must return to eternity, the children to more mundane activity. There are some special moments but it's not consistently compelling and the children, despite individual strong points, are often cloying instead of capricious.