tonite I read it to my little one and was aghast at the message.
The cover features an angel whose features are African. Her wings look like church windows. We find that she is Elsie's fairy godmother. The setting appears to be a colonial village--or a European village of the same era. Fairy godmother doesn't hear well and thinks she heard Elise's parents say they wanted four Elsies, so she gives them four. Then she thinks she heard them say they wanted eight, so eight it was. Eight Elsies were nothing but trouble, and the family was run out of town because of the noise, and the next village wouldn't have them either. Finally they are able to tell the fairy godmother that they just want one Elsie so they got the original back. Then the fairy godmother thought she heard them say they wanted twenty cats, so she made the original one cat into 20--but that was a good thing, because 20 cats meant less mice.
Let me get this straight--eight kids are unmanagable, but twenty cats are a good thing? I wonder if the author, Natalie Babbit (whose Tuck Everlasting is a regular on middle school reading lists) is one of those who supports animal rights but not the rights of unborn humans?