Even the most willing suspension of disbelief can't turn this silly, derivative novel into an entertainment. Featuring Pica the magpie, Digger Muskrat, and a prune named Prune, this resembles in format all those wonderful juveniles where a small band of animals alone or animals and children together undertake a dangerous journey in pursuit of a lofty goal. But here, though survival is an issue, the journeys are less than urgent and the friendship is an awkwardly manipulated association. When Prune falls out of a cart, he convinces the low-flying Pica to take him back to the family tree. Pica drops him en route and Muskrat, spotting him, envisions a tasty meal. But Prune is quite the skilled conversationalist; he diverts Muskrat and soon this unlikely trio is spending time together, exchagning intimacies, and comparing stories about Humans. Eventually, Muskrat and Pica make a valiant effort to return Prune to the orchard; once there, however, he finds it too limiting and departs. He then finds Muskrat, badly injured from their trek, and resolves to nurse him back to health. How can a prune minister to a bruised muskrat? We'll spare you the details, skip over some musings on possible symbolism, and share instead a sample of the prose. ""A luminescent clarity penetrated the sky, and the first whispers of winter could be heard in the breezes that tumbled apart summer's carefully constructed illusions."" Pass it by.