Back of that madcap title is a representative selection of Singhalese folklore--legends, fairy tales, fables--retold from the 19th century Parker collections, and youngsters snared by the title will find the tales an animated, inventive assortment. Take ""The Wonderful Wooden Peacock Flying Machine"" itself: fashioned by a carpenter so that his son won't reach school after the king's son, it becomes the king's son's transport to a distant, desirable princess, his means of escaping execution and making off with the princess; but, as predicted, ""that which goes up must come down,"" and the machine, on fire from a coconut husk brazier for the princess, pitches them into his father's waiting nets in the sea. Even when the stories are familiar, they're intriguingly different: a girl bests her malicious stepmother by cooking savory curries for the seven-mouthed prince who, shedding one mouth each day, becomes handsome and marries her; Sigris Sinno, a boaster like ""The Brave Little Tailor,"" holds off his giant with sheer bravado, then routs him unawares. Quite different are the lovely ""Blue Lotus Flower"" guarding the imperishable spirit of a wronged mother, and the bemused ""Magic Lute Player"" lured from his garden by a decoy elephant devotee. Authentic and entertaining.