Two children living with their Gran outside Liverpool survive poverty--with humor, warmth, and grit--in these ten appealing short stories, the author's first book. MemorablÃ« characters and plenty of action, should hold attention through the unfamiliar British expressions. Fine old Gran has firm standards, a salty tongue, a strong sense of family, and plenty of love; she has cared for the children since their parents left ""--fly-by-nights, the pair of them. Upped and gone. . .looking for the crock 'o gold."" Her task is not easy: the money from social security is meager, and the social worker wants to put blind Maggie in a special school and move the family from its decaying house to a Council flat. But Tom is full of pluck: he gets hard-drinking junk. dealer Mulvaney to help him clear out trash to make a safe play area for Maggie, and has other experiences as various as being rescued from a cave, helping the police catch a crook, attending a funeral, making a rocking horse for Maggie, and being part of a cricket team that casually includes a black girl as one of its best players. A sharply perceived, nonjudgmental look at British kids as many of them really are; a good read.