During the Chicago summer of 1944, 11-year-old Shirley Cohen enjoys her friendship with Morton, with whom she starts a victory garden; shares malteds from the drugstore, where nice young Manny Zelznick helps his dad; waits for her adopted stray to have kittens; and speculates that the janitor, Otto, may be a spy. The kittens are born only to be slaughtered by a mysterious intruder; worse, Manny enlists and immediately dies of an adverse reaction to a shot, leaving Shirley to treasure her preadolescent dreams of their future. Otto, a widower, proves to be a refugee whose wife was Jewish. Despite the sad outcome, a fairly upbeat picture of some memorable moments in a happy childhood; while the characters are Jewish, the war seems far away, and the many period details effectively evoke the era, though there are a few anachronisms. The book is neither as deep nor as poignant as Holtze's Summer Endings (p. 394) nor as dramatic as Hahn's Stepping on the Cracks (above); still, it's a good, undemanding neighborhood story about the same period, for slightly younger readers.