With increasing frequency juvenile fiction is contracting to the dimensions of a short story and the endoskeleton (dialogue, stage directions, asides to the audience) of drama--of which the climax to Sara's season of discontent is a good example. For fourteen years she had "loved her sister without envy, her aunt without finding her coarse, her brother without pity." Now that "I'm not anything" (pretty or smart or athletic), ten-year-old Charlie is "retarded" and everyone else is contemptible--especially classmate Joe Melby, suspected of having taken Charlie's prized wristwatch. Then Charlie gets lost and Joe, a gentle knight plus something of a saint, insists on helping Sara find him. Dismayed because she's learned he was innocent, she hesitates over the words to say so, whereupon Joe tells her a story--of a guru who for twenty-eight years has been searching for "some great wise word"--and she gets the point and, smiling, says she's sorry. It's a sublime moment that even finding the terrified Charlie doesn't surpass, nor Joe's invitation to a dance. The book is a succession of clicks that connect, a sparse but acute self-possessing.