Two orphans, brother and sister, triumph over their miserable lot in life with the help of a magic sewing machine. Before she died, Olya and Sacha's mother implored them to keep the sewing machine; now they pay the rent on their cottage by sewing and gathering wood for their greedy landlord. Miss Schnaap from the orphanage arrives and hauls them off, forcing them to work constantly in the cold and dark with the other unhappy charges. An idle wish Olya makes comes true, revealing the machine's power to grant wishes. The children wish for escape, and their ogre of a headmistress is carried off in a hot-air balloon while they run the institution on their own, warm and well fed. The dastardly adults and resourceful heroes combine for dramatic storytelling; even Miss Schnaap gets a happy ending. Warner employs folk-art motifs in an original style that shows stylized children and adults; the pictures are effectively composed to convey somber moods, humorous moments, and scenes of lasting harmony. A story-hour special.