Hoping to prove that she is responsible enough to be left in charge of her four-year-old half-sister, Vicki takes on the new class project with high expectations: she will care for her 5-lb. bag of sugar, "Babe," as if it were a real baby. However, the pressures of being a normal 11-year-old inevitably create conflicts with her good intentions. Babe vanishes from the care of Vicki's hastily appointed babysister--nice but senile Mr. Ambrose--who is so upset by Vicki's subsequent scolding that he too disappears. Stricken by guilt, Vicki is tempted to conceal Babe's loss, as well as her part in Mr. Ambrose's distress; fortunately, her true conscientious nature reasserts itself. Beginning with its engaging title and jacket, this has a lot going for it: an unusually perceptive portrayal of kids on the brink of teen-age concerns, including Vicki's tentative brushes with the new "hunk" next door and a long-time antagonist at school; narrator Vicki, who understands herself pretty well even amid unexpected complications; the charming logic of the sugar-baby project, a nifty exercise in responsibility; and Mom's generous, creative solution to Vicki's understandable wish to spend time with Dad's new daughter. Thoughtful, well-crafted, and sure to be popular.