A pleasant folkish tale--""reworked"" from a Slavic original--that hinges, unfortunately, on an extraneous development. A poor peasant boy who's a duffer at chopping wood or watching the soup--hence, to his mother, ""good for nothing""--can't get a job either; after all, who wants to hire a boy who says he's ""good for nothing""? A man with a ""good for nothing"" cat in a sack, that's who--and he gives the boy a penny to drown the cat. But the well-meaning, bumbling lad--who's earlier given his winter coat to a scarecrow and his summer hat to a donkey--can't, of course, do in the cat. Instead, he buys her some fish with the penny. . . and just when we think that generosity will be his redeeming trait, the something that he's good for, boy and cat instead find a boat and sail off to an island village where the cat routs the mice. Then the boy is rewarded with a load of cheese for leaving the cat; he sells half, and returns home with the money and the other half, rich and ostensibly redeemed. Lots of perky little pictures but, still, a patched-together story.