Another solid effort from a favorite writer for middle-grade readers, who here initiates a trilogy about two PK's: a preacher's kid and a prisoner's kid. Jerry Johnson's father is serving time in Washington State's Monroe Reformatory for his part in a car-theft ring. When the resulting economic circumstances force Jerry, ten, and his waitress mother to move to a new neighborhood, Jerry faces not only the usual trauma of a new school but the fear that his father's situation will become known--not to mention his own about how he'll respond to the temptations offered by material goods beyond his reach. When his problems are exacerbated by a classmate's attempt at black-mail, Jerry at first tries to tough it out on his own. Eventually, though, he accepts the help of Grace Elliot, daughter of the local minister, whose family has its own problems. Their growing friendship helps Jerry to face his father's return on parole, understanding that, while he may not be able to change his father's behavior, he can change his own. Well-drawn characters and a hopeful, yet realistic, story. Though her style is not distinguished, DeClements understands these children well and describes them sympathetically. A promising start for a new series.