MR. GOAT'S BAD GOOD IDEA by Mariletta Robinson


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Marileta Robinson's three amusing young stories of animals in a Navajo setting are dedicated to Ann Nolan Clark--but they are less reminiscent of Clark's atmospheric evocations than of another old Indian Service picture book, the hilarious Who Wants to Be a Prairie Dog. ""Wool, lettuce, rabbit fur, lool, flettuce, rabbit wur, rool, rabbit, lettuce fur,"" intones Mr. Goat in confusion in the title story; he's got himself into one of those trading situations where, no matter what he asks for (initially, dirt for his hogan roof from Mr. Prairie Dog), he has to supply something from someone else in exchange. When he returns home bushed with the pail of dirt, he finds Mrs. Goat beaming: ""You sure know how to do things the easy way."" The second tale concerns the disappearance of Grandfather Sheep's spotted and torn old hat--which his disapproving daughter has donated to a scarecrow; presented with a new one, he opts good-naturedly to keep both: ""They say""--inarguably?--""two hats are better than one."" And in the third entry, ""Prairie Dog's Coffeepot"" becomes Miss Cow's pitcher of flowers and a snake's new home (""SSStay out!"") before Prairie Dog's own ingenuity and Grandfather Sheep's brainstorm (building a fire: ""NOTHING TASTES QUITE AS GOOD AS COOKED SNAKE!"") restore it to its original use. The little color drawings picture every development with a liveliness and simplicity that gives credence to the tales; it's a respectful enterprise altogether, attentive to particulars--to the point that Grandfather Sheep has his battered old hat back on the last episode.

Pub Date: March 16th, 1979
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell