Mostly, the story of how 13-year-old Jut and his three younger brothers cope while Mom is recovering from encephalitis (and Dad is on a European business trip) is played for conventional laughs or conventional cheers. Thus, the added ingredient in the new family situation is ""a basketball-playing nurse,"" Amazon Brown to the boys, who coaches undersize Jut right onto the school team. Another running motif is a swarm of bees; still another is a hidden panel. And these hoary plot-lines aren't especially well developed or well integrated. But when Carris isn't writing a skit, she comes across with some very nice, lifelike moments: from ten-year-old Marty's idea of a meal composed of ""a bunch of foods that everybody liked,"" to Jut's confrontation with seven-year-old Nick in the supermarket (""We can't take all that stuff""; ""CAN TOO!""), to the squash/ crow pie standoff with well-meaning, uncomprehending Miss Brown. If you shuck the plot, it's a pretty fair, reasonably involving approximation of how boys on their own might behave.