Growing up in Jewish Palestine in the Thirties. Son of Polish refugees, Nachman Shpiegler experiences his parents' money troubles; living in houses knocked together out of used packing crates; the heady smells of the orange groves; and the gradual secularization of the formerly deeply religious and observant townspeople. Mother is practical, Father not. For a while, Father teaches in the same small Talmud Torah that Nachman attends--an ambiguous experience for any child, which Bartov draws nicely. Then, when Father gets a job as a plasterer, things are better; though the horror of the European Holocaust is right around the corner, nothing is quite as real to these settlers as the ever-changing experience of living in a country they are making from scratch. Bartov presents the do-it yourself-ness, the freedom, with convincing, nostalgic detail--through that reliable, but slightly stale, device of a sensitive youngster's impressions. Unspectacular material, conveyed with earnest competence--of real appeal only to those readers with a pre-existing interest in the particular place and time.