A wryly aslant view of a common phenomenon: the growth spurt…. “In almost every respect,” Wallace is an ordinary boy. True, he’s small for his age and he never takes off his fireman’s hat. “He’ll grow out of it,” his mild father reassures his mother. But when Wallace does finally begin to grow, he doesn’t grow up, like other children; he grows down: At the beach, his legs get longer while the rest of him stays the same size – an oddity his older brother points out with a sibling’s smugness. Thus is Wallace’s destiny taken from him. He’s a spectacle suddenly, worried that he might grow as tall as the roof, and clearly a deeper worry for his mother. In a panic, she consults Nanny Heppleweather, too old for service but not too old for advice, who whispers something mysterious about a toadstool that Mrs. Hoskins will find beneath Wallace’s beloved hat. In this deft blend of nonsense and common sense, normalcy is restored by magic – and isn’t that how bodily changes feel? Magical and then just a part of one’s life? That’s how Wallace sees it when he’s his own boy again, casting a shadow just the right size across the sand.