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Adventures of helpful animals and people

By Mary Cowen / April 14, 1988



``The bush ain just a place,'' Clovis the goat tells his orphaned mongoose friend Viggo. ``Is something does get inside you. You could look for the bush and think you see it coming, but when it take you in, you forget you was looking to go there. You see?''

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Viggo does indeed see in Up Mountain One Time, by Willie Wilson, illustrations by Karen Bertrand (Orchard/Watts, New York, $12.95, 133 pages, ages 9 to 13). He also has a lot of adventures in the process of getting to the point of ``seeing,'' and therein lies a very good tale. This book is about how he becomes fit and gets to where he belongs through learning to meet various challenges.

The setting is a tropical island where animals and people speak a colorful brand of English, but not all the animals understand all the people, and vice versa. Children and adults will find ``Up Mountain One Time'' a satisfying piece of storytelling, and the illustrations contribute a mysterious quality to the tale, adding a dimension of wonder.

The Old Meadow, by George Selden, illustrated by Garth Williams (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, New York, $12.95, 192 pages, ages 9 to 13), is also about animals and people.

An exploring mockingbird from West Virginia comes to Connecticut and unwittingly precipitates possible disaster in his new environment.

After suffering the consequences of being an interloper, however, he figures out how to prevent the impending disaster to man, animals, and meadow, with the help of a cricket, a dog, a water snake, and others.

The illustrations, by the artist well known for his drawings in ``Charlotte's Web,'' have a spidery effect that conveys the texture of a semi-abandoned meadow and its inhabitants, as well as a particular kind of charm.