No one knew that they were being nice to someone who was this big creep at school"" thinks Claudia when her parents pamper her. It started when best friend Janice, returning after two years, took up with Polly instead and the two flaunted a bogus maturity. Claudia, hurt, surrounds herself with an ""army"" of younger boys and girls. She's out at school and on the outs at home, where Mother pressures her to act like a young lady. The scene brightens when two of the less compliant kids give her a chance to get back in the swim by working in the Christmas show, and disclosure of a babysitting stint (for an impoverished family) redeems her at home. In a setting that's not quite here and now (like the jacket), eleven-year-old angst treated with humor and insight.