The fifth graders are grossed out when enormously fat Elsie joins their class, and they totally reject her when Elsie--who's on a strict diet--begins stealing their lunch money to buy after-school snacks. But Elsie does begin losing weight, to the point where her skirt falls off in class, and after this humiliation narrator Jenny, one of the taunters, suddenly sees Elsie as a person with feelings. Jenny, who has trouble with math, arranges for Elsie, a whiz, to tutor her, and Jenny gradually induces her friends to accept Elsie too. There are some setbacks, and one scary scene involving a possible kidnapping attempt, before Elsie's mean mother will relent and allow Elsie to stay on instead of shipping her off to boarding school. By then the gifts, their mothers, and the teacher are all rooting for Elsie. It's a familiar situation, and DeClements' telling is no fuller or brighter than usual. However, Jenny's change of heart is believable and her concern for Elsie is easy to share.