Wendy Froud, Author, Terri Windling, Author, Terri Windling, Joint Author ; photos by John Lawrence Jones; art direction by Brian Froud. Simon & Schuster $20 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7432-0234-3

Flawlessly conceived and exquisitely produced, this gentle fable unites two favorite fantasy themes, the quest for a precious object and a duel between Good and Evil. As a doll and puppet maker extraordinaire, Froud follows her earlier successes (The Dark Crystal; The Empire Strikes Back; etc.), with this gentle fable, written with compassion and occasional sly wit by five-time World Fantasy Award–winner Windling. Beautifully designed by husband Brian Froud and handsomely photographed by Jones, the lovely illustrations evoke a beguiling faeryland where the real blends almost imperceptibly into make-believe. At the very bottom of Greenmoss Glen, deep in Old Oak Wood, the humble little furry tree root faery Sneezle dons his red holiday finery for King Oberon and Queen Titania's Midwinter Eve festival—but Oberon's gold and amethyst cup goes missing on this too warm Midwinter Eve. Searching for Oberon's stolen cup, Sneezle and his engaging marsh thistle faery companion, Twig, find a mysterious baby hatching from a golden egg, then elude evil goblins sent by wizard-gone-wrong Malagan, whose wicked spell prevents Lady Winter from entering the land. When Malagan duels with Good Sorceress Tamaryst, Sneezle and Twig help right the mythic circle of the seasons, a graceful reenactment of Windling's familiar "the last shall be first" theme. Meshing seamlessly with her sensitive text, the photos of Froud's creations provide a delightful visual excursion into this land of childhood heart's desire. 7-city author tour.(Oct. 9)

Reviewed on: 09/10/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
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