An actor, singer, and author of off-Broadway revues tries his hand at retelling some old favorites--all in a contemporary mode informed by logic, humor, and a wry sympathy for human nature. From the first paragraph, when Sleeping Beauty's Prince (Valorian) slays a dragon with a fine burst of tongue-in-cheek theatrics, Brooke's stories are full of delights and surprises. Valorian's troubles are just beginning: on waking, Beauty asks for his identification, and no one in the castle believes that they've all been asleep for 100 years. Cinderella's Prince is ambivalent about finding anyone to fit the dipper, while she warns him that it may not even fit her (fairy godmothers can be unpredictable). The moving, poetic extension of ""John Henry"" is almost realistic; the contest takes a suspenseful month--during which the hero takes time to deep, kiss his wife, and go to church--and is concluded with a satisfying original twist. The Paul Bunyan entry starts as a tall tale and ends with a poignant, good-humored feud between Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed, who manages to imbue the great tree-leveler with reverence for growing things--especially redwoods. And the unusual concluding story reveals the author's sources in his own family and in the organic nature of all story. Ranging from hilarious farce to thought-provoking commentary, these are fresh, imaginative, and highly original--grand for sharing aloud. Egielski contributes a small, pleasantly unassuming drawing for each story.