Here's how Ari Stein, new to Brooklyn in 1944, resists the blandishments of Maxie Friedman who wants to turn him into an All-American boy and gives up pranks like sneaking through the fence at Luna Park and peering up through the boardwalk in favor of Hebrew School and the Sabbath club he attends with his new friend Shepsy. Ari is pleasant in his sober way; it's easy to understand his guilt when he ""borrows"" from his mother's pushke or ""loses"" his yarmulke at Maxie's instigation. Even so, most boys will still consider Maxie more fun than Shepsy and will be inclined to agree with Maxie's defense of himself--""Heck, Ari, this is normal."" Ari isn't dynamic enough to change anyone's mind, but his interpretation of the saying ""If I am not for myself, who will be for me?"" gives an empathic insight into his ""differentness.