Like Moon Painters (1971), Maas' first collection of Estonian folktales, this suffers from a surplus of flat dialogue and a surfeit of missed opportunities. The title story, a wonder tale of a fisherman taken by the Queen of the Sea to her daughter's underwater wedding, is unimaginatively told--the opening sentence states, anticlimactically, that ""A long time ago the fish were so plentiful on the Eastern shore of the Baltic Sea that Estonian fishermen caught them in great quantities with little effort."" And in other stories, about a falling out between a fly and a spider, or a rash boy seeking the secrets of the universe, plots tend to dribble away without coming to any sort of head. The most successful of the twelve tales feature motifs--a squabble over dividing up a harvest, a magic wand that works only if used with restraint, a court case over whether a diner who owes for eggs can be sued for the riches the hatched chicks might have brought--that are already familiar from livelier versions. And Jansons' static, crudely colored illustrations are less imaginative yet.