Praising Caroline Sturgis Tappan’s collection, The Magician’s Show Box, and Other Stories (1856), a review in The Criterion proclaims that it “contains a wonderful amount of curiosities that we may venture to assert pretty confidently cannot be found in any other box in the country. Open it” (“Juveniles” 153). In approving its titular conceit, the review nonetheless delineates the limits of the “wonderful,” positing other show boxes whose lids are best left untouched. A review in the Western Messenger employs a similar strategy, contrasting the “innumerable evils that leaped from Pandora’s box as she opened it” to the “dear little faeries” readers will encounter in The Magician’s Show Box (“New Publications” 281). These reviews are useful entry points into the concerns of this essay, which juxtaposes three Romantic literary fairy tales: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Paradise of Children” in A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (1851), Tappan’s eponymous The Magician’s Show Box, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s The Birthday in Fairy-Land (1850). Testaments to a “didactic tradition of fantasy literature” imparting its lessons under the “guise of enchantment” (Shealy xix, xiii), these texts illuminate the animating paradox of imaginative children’s fiction. Seeking to both encourage and contain the child’s queer sensibilities, their stories enact a tension between the destabilizing wonder of fantasy and the need to endorse normative social and sexual roles understood as “childhood’s desired end” (Pugh 2), which compels them once again to close their lids to ensure the child’s proper education.