Aldo Sossi's eighth-grade sister Karen, an avid pen pal and a whiz at cooking (recipient of the freezer in Aldo Ice Cream, 1981), sees herself as unlucky--or wanting--in every other direction: no friends and low grades at her new, Wood-side, N.J. school; saddled with a ""perfect"" younger brother, Aldo, and an imperturbable older sister, Elaine. And Hurwitz does put Karen through some outrageous, everyday ups-and-downs. A first baby-sitting job turns out to be only a surprise-party ruse--but Karen isn't dismissed after luring Mrs. Collins home (by shamming sudden illness); she helps serve the guests, wins over two-year-old Keith, and goes home with ten dollars--plus a job for the following week. Math teacher Mrs. Nesbitt's Halloween party turns out to be another plus: forced to go by her mother, Karen finds a friend in Annette, forced to go too (everyone does, and has a great time). But Annette's ensuing visit is a disaster: ""What was the etiquette for causing someone to have an allergic reaction"" to cats? Then, Karen's search for a science project embroils the entire Sossi household. For the duration, she's been forbidden baby-sitting or cooking. Now, Aldo protests against a report on the bird-killing of cats Poughkeepsie and Peabody. (Near tears: ""We should keep it private."") But her mother's chance suggestion that she ""bake us some bread,"" plus Aldo's chance remark that ""It really is like magic how that glop turns into bread,"" leads to a super-successful classroom demonstration and a new classroom status. Funny, deft, warming--with much more afoot (per the Cleary books) than the light tone and young tenor might suggest.