Once upon a time, in the days before Social Security or insurance companies, there lived a miller and his daughter, Della, who were fairly well-off and reasonably happy until the day their mill burned down."" So begins a set of the most imaginatively twisted tales since Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith hit the scene. The spin that Vande Velde (Dragon's Bait, 1992, etc.) sure-handedly puts on familiar stories sends them tumbling in logical directions: Della decides that gentle Rumplestiltskin will be a better father than the greedy king; having seen what the princess is like, Prince Sidney is outta there as soon as he's no longer a frog; the oldest Billy Goat Gruff butts his brothers into the drink for not warning him about the troll; and a princess who can't sleep because of a pea is entirely too fussy for Prince Royal. Jack of the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood suffer hilarious, deserved misadventures; Hansel and Gretel are a pair of young killers; and Beauty almost turns Beast down when she sees him in human form. The author's creative juices are far from exhausted by these, so she intersperses even more plot ideas, in the form of shorter ads, poems, etc., throughout. Terrific fun: lighter of heart than Galloway's Truly Grim Tales (p. 856), and comparable in quality to William Brooke's classic sendups (A Telling of the Tales, 1990, etc.).