A gifted illustrator with several picture books to his credit proves, in his first attempt, to be an equally gifted novelist. After a lapse of several years, kids at a camp somewhere north of Chicago revive a cruel custom: they maroon two of the least popular of their number (""goats""), without clothes, on an island a mile and a half from land. It's dusk; there's an empty cabin, a single pillow and blanket, and lots of mosquitoes. They don't know each other; Laura doesn't even know Howie's name, and at first gives in to tears. But both are bright, and angry--they decide early that they will never go back to the camp--and by the time he has pushed her across the lake holding onto a log (she can't swim), they are both ready to give up superficial conventions in their joint resolve to hide until Laura's mother can come (Howie's parents, archaeologists, are in Turkey). Communication problems extend this for several days, during which they borrow an empty cottage, acquire clothes, visit a camp of friendly inner-city children, and get picked up by and then escape from an unsavory deputy sheriff. Meanwhile, Laura's mother gradually becomes aware of what has happened, and is believeably transformed from an over-busy, employed single parent to their unreserved champion. Howie and Laura give each other warmth, support, friendship, and (to their surprise) love, in an idyll whose sweetness recalls Chute's Innocent Wayfaring A sensitive portrayal of that perilous time at puberty when young people are discovering their real strengths but must still bow to adult authority, a tale of underdogs triumphant, a powerful and beguiling story of survival and transformation. Beautifully written yet easily accessible, it should find a wide audience.