Textually, MacHale gives a fairly standard retelling of the fairy tale, although there are a couple of variant details. The first is the explicit statement that when the bear husband comes to the girl's bed night after night, he sleeps the entire time and never touches her; so, there is no sex and also no conversation to develop their relationship. The other alteration was that when the girl reaches the troll castle she wins free the prince almost immediately by weeping on his tallow-stained garment, those breaking the spell. This seemed to easy and elides both her struggle and the ritualistic three attempts at freeing the husband. Both these details seemed to weaken rather than improve the story.
What really stands out about this version, though, is Vivienne Flesher's illustrations. If you can call them that. I quite like Flesher as a painter
. But as an illustrator for a children's book? I really don't think her work is suitable at all. It is not fairy-tale-like, not narrative. At times the "illustrations" were practically abstract. For example:
is supposed to be the girl carried by the wind. With an explanation I can sort of make myself see that. But what's the point? This arty choice felt like an adult pretension, an intrusion, and I know I would not have appreciated it as a kid.