An experienced author of paperback fiction for older girls tries her hand at a realistic story for younger children, setting it in the 50's of her own childhood. Wendy Fletcher's pleasures and tribulations are similar to the ones in Cleary's books: though drawing is her forte, she's hesitant about tackling cursive; with Dad in a new job (it includes driving a truck in the neighborhood), her family is having ""a tight year,"" and Wendy's trying not to wear out her shoes. More novel to today's children, the Cold War has resulted in frequent air-raid drills at school; when the frightened Wendy asks why we should quarrel with the Russians, she's told only that they are ""different."" In the end, she realizes that differences can be good--the imaginative ""Birdland"" that is her favorite subject in her own art is interesting because she draws each bird differently, all living happily together. This doesn't have the humor or the insights of Hurwitz or Janice Smith, and the period details don't quite add up to a late-50's flavor. Still, family and classroom interplay rings true, while the rather obvious moral has merit. For this level, illustrations would have been a plus. An acceptable additional choice.