When story time is short, try these fast fairy tales

One-Minute Favorite Fairy Tales, by Shari Lewis. New York: Doubleday & Co. 48 pp. $5.95. A bedtime story is a nifty time to share. But there are times when you're tired, a stack of dirty dishes sits in the sink, and a stack of office work sits on the desk. Reading a story seems just too much. This is when Shari Lewis's new fairy-tale book comes in handy.

Each story takes only about a minute to read. Companion it with a bit of talk time and a hug goodnight. And all this can be leisurely accomplished in five minutes. This fast-lane approach shouldn't be a steady diet. But better to have an abbreviated ``share time'' that's happy than a longer one that's begrudged.

It's not easy to telescope a tale into one minute and keep the story's kernel intact. Ms. Lewis has done a credible job on this score. This is the second storybook of this type for the author, who is better known for her puppeteering, ventriloquism, and TV apppearances.

The illustrations by Benton Mahan are colorful, but their main forte is that they're highly expressive, providing parents with lots of discussion springboards, such as ``Tell me who's surprised [or sad or confused or whatever] on this page. How do you know?''

Overall, the book packs a great deal of pleasure and learning into its 48 pages.

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