In a deceptively simple format, a girl tells the tale--her version, that is--of a homeless man. Seeing Eye Willie, formally known as William Durocher, is an ever-present figure in front of Spike's Stationery Store, with his eye patch, embroidered Chinese slippers, flute and ``dried-up snakeskin . . . around his neck.'' Stories about this colorful character abound among the townspeople, but none matches the vibrant imaginings of the young narrator. With perfectly kidlike logic, she flies Willie back through time to his childhood and whisks him on a world-wide whistle-stop tour from Africa to India to China. In these diverse locales young Willie encounters various talking animals and receives gifts that will remain with him in adulthood. Gottlieb's ( Big Dog ; My Stories by Hildy Calpurnia Rose ) distinctive naive artwork, resonating with vitality and optimism, accompanies this many-layered story. Together text and illustrations question one of the modern world's ills without moralizing or offering pat solutions; the result is an unusual, challenging and thoroughly winning picture book. Ages 6-9.