Ben Derby's spring vacation is preempted by a class assignment requiring students to help out in one of various social agencies. Ben, who is fond of children, decides on a daycare center for the homeless. There he meets brooding Wendell, withdrawn Stephanie, and others, but the child who steals his heart is sturdy, cheerful Batista. When Ben sees him apparently the victim of domestic violence, he tells the authorities, and then enlists the help of his friends in a ridiculous plot to kidnap him. It fails, and Ben learns that Batista's family is a warm and loving one. There are also subplots, melodramatic and mostly unresolved. Neufeld built his reputation on the strength of Edgar Allan (1969) and Lisa Bright and Dark (1970). This time out he provides more tract than novel, with a fairly preposterous plot, a lot of loose ends, weak characterization, and more than one message with a capital M.