Abby's family can't afford carpets because Papa is an editor (Mama works at home as a book designer) so ""he doesn't make as much money as some people do."" (Tell that to your average librarian.) Anyway when life in their two bathroom New York apartment becomes too much for Mama, Papa sends her to Washington for a week's vacation and eleven-year-old Abby takes over her chores, The first night mean Mrs. Dooner downstairs (the absence of carpets is just one reason why she ""hates"" the children) calls the fire department when Abby, Lisa and Daniel prepare a hibachi barbecue on the balcony, and just before Mama returns the children, carrying their week's laundry up from the basement, then rescue an ungrateful Mrs. D. from a stuck elevator and in the same trip surprise a teenager running downstairs with their own TV set. The intervening days are just as eventful, most notably when Papa's fussy godmother drops in the same night that Papa brings a TV chimp and his trainer home for dinner. In the end Abby, who puzzles frequently on the ambiguities of time, can't decide whether the week went by fast or slowly, but there's no question that the book's admittedly inconsequential 128 pages go by fast. The ups and downs of Abby's week in charge will probably leave readers torn between sending their mothers away and tying them to the stove.