It's nice that it's not a tragedy that ten-year-old Jake McGee can't read; but his salvation doesn't quite come off as a scatty comedy either. For half the story Jake's wayward feet keep him away from school in the morning, keep him from settling down in class, keep him twitching in tutoring sessions with sugary ogre Mrs. Newsome; and they even get him in trouble with officious principal Mr. Wibble. So he runs off, and the story shifts from hokey whimsy (every adult a schoolhouse stereotype) to offbeat whimsy (every adult a flake or a nut or somehow non compos mentis). Jake rescues a wandering baby from being run down by a truck, takes a shine to the tyke, thinks ""finders keepers,"" and can't quite understand why the parents don't agree. But his crucial encounter is with an old cat-lady/bag-lady who wangles his secret from him, gets him to thinking positively, and offers an ego-building refuge any time. And when he gets home, even his somewhat dim mother has to agree that, his prior record notwithstanding, maybe he knows ""what's best for me."" There's one great scene in which Jake desperately parries Mr. Wibble's arguments for basic literacy (""I wouldn't go to the restroom at all . . . I'd wait until I got home""); but too much of this is unfocused, uninvolving, and unfunny.