MING LO MOVES THE MOUNTAIN
A noodle story with an Oriental setting, this is something like the old joke about Mohammed going to the mountain. Ming Lo and his wife, however, "move the mountain" by walking backwards away from it. This is after they have suffered from living at the foot of the mountain with no sun, rocks falling through the roof, and rain falling through the holes the rocks make. So Ming Lo's wife demands that he move the mountain and sends him to the wise man for advice. When the wise man's first three suggestions fail (push the mountain with a felled tree, scare it away with noise, please it with cakes), he finally advises the pair to dismantle their house, pick up the pieces, and do a "mountain-moving dance" by putting each foot, in turn, behind the other "for many hours." Once this is accomplished, Ming Lo and his wife rebuild, confident that they have moved the mountain. The pictures mix a recognizable Oriental style and remote serenity with Lobel's cream-puff colors. The anecdote doesn't make you laugh like an earthier, folk-type silly tale would, but there's a nice touch of drollery, in keeping with the straight-faced telling, in Lobel's depiction of the wise man, who becomes more languid with each visit, and more encased in a smokescreen of swirls from his own pipe.