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By Noel Perrin

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I cannot go with you. My father is old, and has nobody but myself to love him. '" Hawthorne's tales are full of such tenderhearted fathers and mothers. And Ariadne at least seems to be a grown young woman. Many of the classical heroines Hawthorne turns into children. Europa is just a little girla very pretty onewhen Zeus in the form of a white bull swims off with her. Proserpina seems to be somewhere around eleven or twelve when Pluto abducts her, and though she is a lovely child, she's definitely not a nymphet.

On every page there is also much cartoon-style conversation, hand-lettered, in balloons, according to the best comic-strip conventions. (One exception: Comic strips virtually never employ periods at the ends of sentences. It's exclamation points or nothing. ) There is also a third element: those short, hand-lettered student papers. Any scientific information that doesn't fit comfortably into the main narrative or in the cartoon dialogue can easily be popped into these little themes. It was a clever idea, back in 1986, to use eleven of them in the first Magic Bus book.

Edward has never met Uncle Josh because Josh is a hobo, a living testament to irresponsibility (and freedom). For the last ten years he's been out West, bumming around. When he does arrive for the visit, he has with him an altogether endearing dog named Argess. These three elements of plotthe bully, the dog, and the unclework together in complex and unexpected ways, and produce the sort of book that children stay up late in bed to finish. But the biggest source of pleasure is the style. Mary Stolz plays the English language the way Rostropovich plays the cello.

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