by Philippa Pearce
So Jack left his brother's house (with half the pigs) and moved to the other side of the forest, where he lived happily for a while with his squirrel wife. She showed him the secrets of the forest, from which they both benefitted (I enjoyed this bit of nature lore). But then Jack's older brother, jealous and angry (at loosing the pigs, and probably his brother's forced labor as well) found them and incited local villagers against Jack and his forest wife. They feared her strangeness, and willing to believe the lies told, imprisoned Jack. His wife, with the help of her green people, turns back into a squirrel to rescue Jack, but then he must make a choice. Will he have his wife, or the squirrel on his shoulder? For the green people say "fairy gifts cannot be given twice". I really like how the story ended. I keep thinking about it.
The illustrations by Wayne Anderson have a gentle, antique quality to them and remind me something of Tomie dePaola. My favorite page is the one that shows Jack exploring the forest in springtime, discovering many different nests and creatures living in trees before he finds a squirrel's nest, delightfully growing with leafy tendrils.