Using simple, evocative language Cunningham spins another delicate fable of the triumph of good over evil. Oaf (shortened from Olaf) is given three gifts by his loving aunt before she leaves him forever: a red hat, a promise of treasure, and the words 50-50. Oaf too leaves home to look for the treasure. His kindness and absolute fairness (50-50 in everything, including, in one case, an exchange of blows) gather to him a following of a crow, a dog, a cat and a rat, all impressed by Oaf's firmly held innocence. The group, living hand-to-mouth, wanders about until they encounter a traveling entertainment, dancing puppet like people, put on by an ominous stranger. They investigate and discover that the puppets are dwarfs, drugged and forced to perform by their master. Another prisoner, a fox, joins Oaf to help him put on his own performance, an endeavor that inspires the master's revenge. The evil master captures Oaf and his friends, and they must find a way to defeat him and, more difficult, to decide what to do with him when they win. It is Oaf who decides, and his decision helps them to discover the treasure: each other.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 1986

ISBN: 0394974301

Page Count: 86

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1986

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