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Children's LiteratureThe stories in volume seven of "The Books of Nine Lives" series would make excellent read-alouds by an engaging storyteller. When reading to one's self, these short tales of magic and supernatural powers are rambling narratives with no real story line and shallow characters. For example, the first story features a retired soldier who reads three words from an old book and thirty demons appear and ask for a task to complete. The soldier eventually realizes he can make them disappear by reading the words backwards. DeSpain identifies the country associated with the stories, mostly updated versions published previously in his newspaper column. Similar tales, however, have come from numerous countries. For example, Norway is identified as the country of origin for the story of Rose, who is married to a prince after she spins flax into yarn, turns yarn into cloth, and sews cloth into shirts, all thanks to the assistance of three ugly crones whose only desire is being called "Auntie" at her wedding. This story is reminiscent of Rumpelstiltskin. Brief information about the derivation of the tales and comparison with those from other countries would be interesting and useful. Clever small illustrations are randomly placed and add to the text. 2003, August House, Ages 9 to 12.