A very long, very wordy, very slow-moving story about an old Japanese man who routs a gang of robbers--and, in the process, frees a caged maiden--with the aid of some enchanted sticks. . . which, their duty done, become inert fuel for his fire. That's it, through page after page of text with sometimes a Japanese-y black-and-white illustration opposite, sometimes not. The one lively, imaginative passage has the sticks doubling each time the desperate robber chief strikes them with his sword--and that, coming near the end of the book, won't save it from creeping, suffocating tedium.