Just five minutes on the local Riverton station's ""Spotlight"" and Alvin Fernald, 12-year-old possessor of the Magnificent Brain, is on his way to fame. The response from public and advertisers is so enthusiastic that Alvin is soon anchoring a twice-a-week kids'-view news program, with his friend Peter as producer, friend Shoie as sportscaster (reporting such underground kids' events as the sixth annual stinkbug race), and younger sister Daphne (the Pest) as weather person. (It seems that Daphne has a bum toe which proves a better short-run forecaster than the station's official weatherman and his instruments.) Network exposure temporarily goes to Alvin's head, but he finally decides to retire--consenting thereafter to consult for the fictional network's Cronkite equivalent. Alvin signs off with a ""real smasheroo""--a story that clears friend and cameraman John of an eleven-year-old bank robbery and reveals simultaneously to friend Peter and the world that Peter is John's son. With Alvin at the controls you can forgive the soap-opera situation, the Pest's cute on-camera folksiness, and Alvin's own brash handling. The story zips along, powered by Alvin's ten-to-the-minute brainstorms.