It is difficult for me to decide which of the five stories in this collection I like best because each is charming, original, and filled with a gentle humor and each is about the little girl Nell, her loving mother Rhonda, and her thoughtful father, the narrator. The stories are for adults and for children but they are not stories with the magic of fairy tales or Harry Potter adventures. They contain another and equally wonderful magic, that of reality, specifically, nature. In “The Sun Zebra,” we view an old horse in a new way; in “Bob the Intrepid Insectnaut,” we meet a special cicada named Bob; and, in “Raven-Lenore,” we are introduced to a chubby squirrel that Poe himself might have been amused by. And we see them through the eyes of Nell, the delightful child star of all the stories and, the rich imagination of her father. “Raven-Lenore” is also a tender and beautiful portrait of a father’s love for his daughter.
In the last two stories, “The Meaningless Christmas Tree” and “Birdman and the Fairy Tale,” the author abandons critters for our own species. In the former we meet a World War II veteran with a humble and generous heart. And in “Birdman and the Fairy Tale,” we get a closer look into the author’s heart when he muses about aging. In this story he refers to himself as “one feeble Big Bad Wolf” and perhaps that is so but he is certainly one hell of a writer. There is so much love echoing through these stories – love of family and love of nature – they are a joy to read.
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