The Beans have a sort of slipshod, shambling existence on a houseboat; their mother is ""absent""; their grandmother is a rather rigid woman; their father, Martin, writes occasionally and drinks more frequently; and the three children are on their own. Alice, the oldest, is growing up and away so that it is Emmie, 14, who looks out for the younger Oliver, 8, with an intense protective loyalty. While Emmie keeps her Diary, takes care of her squirrel Mo, she also covers for Oliver who ""borrows"" other people's belongings, a pastime second only to his tortoise collection. A childless couple, however, moves next door and through the children tries to fill the emptiness of their own lives. But the story ends with some further disastrous Forbidden Games (both a single scene and the theme in general is reminiscent of the film): these children too are waifs in a world they never made and there is that wistful, terrible loss of innocence when illusions are exposed to an abrasive reality.... It is a small book, acute, discreet and tender; it is also written with warm care and considerable taste- all qualities too easily overlooked.