In spite of his best intentions, fifth-grader Willie never seems to measure up to the expectations of either his humorless teacher or his exacting father, who merely wants Willie to ``concentrate.'' Even Marla, the new girl, is reluctant to respond to Willie's friendly overtures because, as she explains, ``You don't fit, and people won't like me if they see me with you.'' Only his indulgent mother seems to appreciate Willie's ample good qualities, but she also comes across as immature and weak. Ultimately Willie does win Marla over and in the process makes a dent in his relationship with his father, but these small triumphs are hard-earned--and Marla almost immediately moves away. The lack of sympathetic, strong adults and Willie's naive vulnerability are not an entirely credible combination, much less a comfortable one. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/18/1994 Release date: 04/01/1994 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.