Hard knocks and soft spots. Setting out for Potosi (Bolivia) to make his fortune, Jose finds only hunger and loneliness until a one-eared donkey starts to muzzle in on his infrequent pancakes. Pedro the minstrel joins the roving twosome, buys Jose his first sandals. Separated from his friends during a carnival, Jose falls in with some locals who steal tires which they convert into sandals (""If you want to die of hunger, no one in Potosi will stop you""). The boy gets a clue to the whereabouts of his lost friends, then is tricked into accompanying a wealthy girl home. Eventually dismissed for defending the right of ragamuffins to beg bread, he sets out again, this time successfully, for Pedro and One-Ear. The fact of poverty is never overlooked but it is offset by the camaraderie of man, boy, and donkey and the implicit belief in the moral superiority of the poor. Some may object to such undisguised enunciation; many will recoil from the illustrations which are inappropriately severe for the age level.