No blessing for Pepito?! Alas for twelve-year-old Tana, the monkey that U.S.bound Uncle Esteban leaves behind (willingly enough) doesn't qualify for Father Francisco's annual Blessing of the Animals because, her father explains, he's not useful. True, he's clever and he's teachable; but the other, dumber animals contribute tangibly to the meager life of the clearing. For the three months that Tana has to demonstrate Pepito's worthiness, one after another opportunity misfires--including Pepito's canniest trick. To ingratiate himself with sow Rosa (and get near her trough), Pepito has picked up father's habit of scratching her with a stick; but when Pepito-and-stick lure the runaway Rosa back to the pen, father--unapprised of Pepito's artful mimicry--pooh-poohs the children's story. (And they had been afraid that Rosa's fickleness would hurt his feelings!) Comes the day of the blessing, Tana, crushed, stays behind with Pepito; the dread government inspectors turn up, to make sure no family has any undeclared animals (all do--to save enough for themselves from the ""always-hungry City""); and only an assist from Pepito enables the farmers to hide their ""nonexistent"" livestock in time. Now, of course, blessed Pepito will be blessed too. A predictable outcome, but none the worse for it--Pepito is an endearing, ingenious scamp, the other animals behave amusingly true to form, and even the adults act like reasonable, good-natured people.