A second romp with irrepressible Katie (The Private Notebook of Katie Roberts, 1996) in a small Texas town in the late 1940s. Katie chronicles her ups and downs in the notebook that her elderly New York friend and neighbor, Mrs. Leitstein, sent for her 12th birthday. Katie writes letters to Mrs. Leitstein about her life--a fairly happy one--with her mother, new stepfather Sam, boisterous twin baby half-brothers, and her friends and foes at school. The concerns are low-key and elementary; she is assigned to help Rudy, an orphaned Italian-Jew who speaks little English, and at first Katie thinks it will rain her life. When Sam opens a luncheonette, Katie is overjoyed, and settles down to concentrate on the really important things: snotty Pamela's party (to which Katie wasn't invited), the Valentine Dance, and wearing lipstick. Two clouds cross Katie's sunny horizon: Customers are scarce at the luncheonette; worse, Katie's mother is hit by a car and badly injured. A letter to Mrs. Leitstein brings her to Texas to take care of them all, where she meets and marries Rudy's grandfather. It's a rollicking story that balances humor and pre-adolescent angst with the larger canvas of post-WWII America. With amusing black-and-white line drawings.