cover image The Wishing Well

The Wishing Well

Eugene Bradley Coco. Simon & Schuster, $11.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-88138-112-2

Each of these companion books features a short, terse story accompanied by colored, linoleum-cut illustrations. In Wishing Well , a boy's greedy requests are granted by an enchanted well: he asks for all the wealth in the world. But as with all such requests, the results are far different than the boy had imagined, and he believes himself to be cast out and alone. He observes an old man whose requests of the well are humble, and finds out that the man, too, has learned the hard lesson of greed. The Fiddler's Son is loved by nearly all the villagers for his beautiful music, but one man maligns him, saying that it is his instrument that provides the music, not talent. Yet when he smashes the boy's fiddle, the boy uses a stick and string to prove that his songs, played from the heart, are the source of his acclaim. The circular structure of Wishing Well will find favor with readers, who will be glad to find that enchantment, if used moderately, can bring contentment. The Fiddler's Son , however, is a story of disparate parts that are never coherently told: Why is this boy so blessed with music? Why doesn't his own father defend him? Why does he have a detractor? The illustrations are sensitively wrought; combined with the book's careful designwhich includes a hand-pasted cover illustrationthey give the books a handsome look and feel. No ages given. (Dec.)