Duncan's world is Freedom Park in Charlotte, N.C., where his father is director of the Nature Museum. A confusing Easter weekend starts with a mysterious explosion that kills a duck; Duncan suspects tough Van Meyer-ding, leader of a small-scale delinquent crew. An accident during a war game the next day gets Duncan some stitches in his skull but begins a tenuous friendship with Jonah, the big Negro, and his four-year-old sister Beverly. Some creature-catching and aquarium-cleaning and game-playing later, a monkey wrecks the museum and Duffy, formerly of Van's gang, helps to clean up. Duncan is supposed to be twelve but behaves about eight (letting his father carry him horsic-back to bed) and the other characters are correspondingly younger than their stated ages. Events move as they might in real life, resulting in an aimlessness that is bewildering and without fictional focus.