Becky, Jonathan, Matthew, Mary, and Elizabeth Harrington follow the instructions on a drawing found in a mysterious library picture book and they enter an underground world where everything is made of candy. They come to the beautiful Tree of Balance, with jewels for leaves. A sign reads “Look...Don't Touch,” but Mary takes a jewel. The Tree dies, and the candy world disappears, leaving them trapped in a bizarre, underground world. The library picture book directs them to a northward path to find the way out.
The children learn from a pixie that the northward path is taken only by those who have touched the Tree of Balance, who are obligated to find the Tree and restore it or else be tarred and feathered by all the other creatures. The Tree of Balance is said to change shape and be hard to recognize. The pixie, who has been bribed to misdirect them, tells them that something that might have been the Tree has been seen handing out candy and jewels on “the broad path” southward. They decide to follow the southward path and at least get some candy before they come back to go north again. The broad path divides and each goes a separate path (Mary and Elizabeth together). All fall over separate precipices.
After they encounter an oddball assortment of animals and characters after going over the precipices, the children reunite. They continue their quest and meet a dwarf who gives them a sword for use only in defending themselves against the gelfelchin, a mysterious female creature who rules over goblins and blames the children for killing the Tree. The dwarf sets the children on their way to the northward path. They find the path, but stray from it and are captured by the gelfelchin. After they escape from the gelfelchin and find the northward path again, the gelfelchin and goblins block the path. To go past the gelflechin and her goblins, the children have to fight. Fortunately, the inhabitants of the underground land come to their rescue and do battle with the gelfelchin and the goblins so that the children can complete their quest.
This report prepared by C. S. Carroll