Students who break the rules at Ernestine Wilde Alternative High School get sent to see Ms. Lavinia Drumm, the librarian. Tall and exotically dressed, wearing strange jewelry and voluminous shawls, and holding a carved shillelagh, Ms. Drumm is known for her uncanny storytelling. She bangs her shillelagh, sits atop a table, and begins her tales: of a boy who comes to an untimely end when he tries to teach crows to talk; of a woman who may actually be a fox; of a child who joins a family of cats below an escalator. These stories, bold and evocative -- and full of fur, feathers, and scales -- are stunningly original, yet embrace traditional and folk motifs.
Barbara Ann Porte, who is known for her superb storytelling, is in top form with this new collection of inventive tales paired with Rosemary Feit Covey's dramatic wood engravings.