Two runaways and an older teenager join forces to build new lives--in a sunny first novel set in Depression-era Florida. Jody, 12, is fleeing his drunken uncle; Taffy is escaping her overbearing social-worker. They meet in dismal Crane's Bog and pole a hundred miles up the coast to an abandoned island, where they find an old house, fresh water, and abundant sea life. The two are skilled at drawing sustenance from shore and ocean, and their nearly idyllic existence becomes even more so when they are joined by Jeff, who, unable to find work, rows out to his family's old estate to try his luck at fishing. Not only do the three fend for themselves, but they also begin to make a good living selling their catch. There is almost no conflict here, and frequent digressions and subplots involving minor characters slow the pace; but a strong sense of place--enhanced by lively accounts of fishing, shellfishing, and using the materials at hand for shelter and protection--will keep most readers engrossed. In the end, worried adults track down Taffy and Jody; impressed by their success and their determination to remain independent, they leave them in Jeff's care. Not a deep tale, but pleasantly optimistic and vividly realized.