Maria's Mama irons shirts for the Overnite Laundry to pay Maria's tuition at the Museum's Saturday morning art classes, but she knows as much about art as anybody. And when Maria is ashamed to draw her own house as specified in a class assignment, Mama encourages her to ""tell the truth"" and show the rundown tenement, complete with scrawled graffiti and milk cartons on the windowsill. Maria's embarrassment at the poverty of her home soon fades into pride in her artistry, though it's hard to be sure whether her teacher (who at first says, ""Maria didn't quite understand the assignment . . . I'd meant for you to draw your own house"") is naive or just trying to be tactful. In any case, it's a more reticent treatment of the situation than one might expect nowadays, but Maria's dose relationship with Mama and distant idolatry of her tall blond teacher capture her ambivalence neatly. And though young readers will wish they could see the picture Maria drew, Scott's sketches of street scenes and Mama's kitchen have a comparable feeling for homely detail.