CALL ME BANDICOOT by William Pene du Bois
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Or call him the Scheherezade of the Staten Island ferry. A head inclined in the direction of the water -- ""Filthy, isn't it?"" -- and he's into the story of How Ermine Bandicoot Filled New York Harbor With Cigarette Tobacco. Into it just enough that the listener pays the price of a hot dog and soda pop to hear it; and the price of an apple turnover a la mode to get from Ermine Bandicoot's stinginess to his butt collection; and several candy bars to reach his great scheme for the Statue of Liberty, the mammoth cigarette to stink up New York, promoting the anti-pollution and anti-smoking campaigns; and two postcard pictures of this phenomenon to put the tobacco into the water; and a dollar tip to top it off. Coming back the boy buttonholes a British traveler looking for the UN with the tale of Ermine Bandicoot and the Casa Nostril, a confraternity of big-nosed bigwigs; his business card reads ERMINE BANDICOOT. STORIES AND INVENTIONS. ANY SUBJECT MATTER. ENTERTAINMENT GUARANTEED. Followed ashore, he folds up . . . into Hermann Vanden Kroote, Jr., disaffected son of the cigarette mogul. The conclusion: ""It's tough to be a kid and have principles, really tough to squeeze out a miserly existence. . . particularly if you happen to choose that oldest of noble professions, storytelling."" Appropriately, fewer pictures and more story than in others (Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead et al.) of this series and of course Herman/Ermine is more sinned against than sinning: his vulnerability ices a masterly performance.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1970
Publisher: Harper & Row