In search of adventure, feisty 11-year-old Hallelujah escapes the watchful eye of her guardian and watches Chicago burn down around her during one memorable October week. Meticulously, Robinet re-creates the events of the 1871 fire. Hallelujah wanders about, witnessing behavior both brave and cowardly; performing some brave deeds of her own; alternating between excitement, horror at the destruction, and guilt that she is enjoying the experience; and meeting a succession of people--including Elizabeth, a wealthy, newly homeless white girl who lives with Hallelujah until her snooty parents track her down. The characters here are less well developed than the themes; adults can sound childlike (""Lordy, Mr. Joseph, what have you done did?"") while children sound like adults (""We're both children. We have the same feelings and needs...""), but Hallelujah sees many people put aside their racial prejudices and pitch in to begin rebuilding. The message sits a bit heavily, and there are some careless repetitions; still, this child's-eye view of a great event should appeal to readers with a historical bent. Bibliography; maps not seen.