If this first book has an increasingly familiar theme--hard times in the 30's--it's also particularly well told. Franny Parsons and her family thought they were through the worst of the Depression; for a year they've been settled in a real house while Papa has gone to work each day at the Coppers' farm. Then the Coppers' nephew, Smokey, replaces Papa, putting him out of work again. He leaves in search of income, while Franny's mother learns to be self-reliant at home. Into this plot is woven Franny's growing hate of Smokey for intruding on their peace and her helping a ""retarded"" boy learn to read (modern readers will recognize dyslexia). Franny is a winning heroine, just enough of a spitfire to be interesting, and with an affection for her family that will have readers sharing her longing that her father come home. Smooth, gentle, a book of small but meaningful triumphs.