The small cast -- three children and a dispossessed old man whose shack is in the path of a new superhighway -- sounds familiar, and the relatively short time span and few incidents make this more like a story than even a children's novel. And when the goat man withdraws from the world in his new project home, then sets off wordlessly to sit with a shotgun in the old one that's about to be bulldozed, Byars resorts to a bike accident that injures his grandson Figgy to bring the old man out of the shack and back to reality. The ending, in which a doctor called to the accident (he's the father of Ada, the third child) resolves to find a farm for Figgy and his grandfather, is even more pat. But it is easy to identify and sympathize with overweight, daydreaming Harold, Figgy's new friend, whose very fantasies are expressed with a cant-mocking, self-deprecating wryness and whose apprehensive, lonely walk to fetch the armed goat man for his injured grandson is a modest act of courage. Figgy, too, with his fear of bicycles and his urchin's impulsiveness, is an appealing sketch, and if we never get behind what Harold considers Ada's "remote, Egyptian look," her supportive competence is just what both boys need. Slight in body, trite in plot, but very nicely handled.