Jeannie Newman, moving into the ""smart"" fifth grade in 1943, is immediately pegged as trouble by her teacher. Still, she manages to hold her own against Mrs. Corey's unjust treatment, get her picture in the paper, and have a budding preadolescent romance with class smartie Vincent DeVito. Her secret correspondence with a GI pen pal, however, creates mixed feelings that culminate in a painful scene when Mrs. Corey confiscates a letter; but Jeannie perseveres, using rival Susanne's destruction of her morning glories as motivation to best Susanne in a war-effort paper drive. Along the way, Jeannie discovers her own strengths and realizes that she values being described as ""great,"" ""funny,"" ""smart,"" and ""kind"" much more than as ""pretty"" or ""popular."" Once past a cliched opening paragraph, there's a lot to like in this first novel--especially its vibrant protagonist. Glassman accurately evokes the period without overwhelming young readers; her authentic depiction of the joys and terrors of a Brooklyn school ranges from funny to infuriating. Sure to provoke excited discussion, this is a fine choice for reading aloud or for use in an integrated curriculum.