Dad had a ""spot of bother"" and went to prison, and that's when Mum started to ""lose her marbles,"" but there's not much wrong with 12-year-old Juniper, even though she has only ""one point five"" arms. Despite coping with nightmares, bill collectors, and an empty larder while Mum sleeps or weeps, Juniper rejoices in the incorrigible Tom Cat, a close friend (Ranjit), a motherly neighbor who often feeds her, warm memories of Dad, and companionable joshing at school, where her work is recognized for quality. But there's a threat of being ""put in care,"" and a stranger seems to be following her--she sees him, and he turns up in Ranjit's skillful drawings. When there's a robbery at school, these drawings are stolen, and Juniper knows that two recent gaol escapees must be trying to get at her dad through her. In a rousing denouement, Juniper is held hostage, Dad appears, Tom plays a crucial role in a dramatic rescue, and the plot's threads are neatly tied. Brisk and pungent, Kemp's language is laced with tuneful echoes and snatches of children's chants and old songs. This is not the first Cricklepit School story by this gifted Carnegie winner; let's hope it's not the last.