The Night Swimmers
Betsy Byars' recent novels appeal more through character than situation and, though I found this book touching and occasionally amusing, I wonder about kids' reactions. No stylistic problems here - it's pre-eminently readable - and the subject has worked well before but ... is an adult viewpoint necessary to feel the heroic waste of Retta's attempt to mother her two younger brothers? And how much maturity does the excellent portrait of Roy (kindergarten age) demand for full appreciation? The splendid treatment of their charmingly neglectful father helps; so, in a sense, does the fraction-too-neat ending. Definitely one for teachers, anyway. Try it with teenage girls and gauge response.