Turn-of-the-century working-class England comes to life in this tale of an endearing and inquisitive boy. At six, Willy Overs, eldest son of a Manchester candy merchant, is marked as ""a likely lad"" when he defends his right to pick flowers in a public park. From that moment his father plans Willy's life, dreaming that he'll scale the corporate ladder and take a place among the city's celebrated men -- and thereby win the competition between the Overs and their relations and rivals, the Sowters. But Willy doesn't share his father's fancy; he loves books and dreads his 13th birthday, when he must leave school and begin work at an insurance company. Larger-than-life characters and elaborate descriptions contribute to the classic feel of this gentle adventure, originally published in Britain in 1971. Like a Dickens protagonist, Willy stumbles into his fate with such disarming frankness that his escapades will make ""likely"" prospects for today's readers. This first US edition features appropriately humorous pencil illustrations.