Alexandra Plummet has the almost-11 blues: she can't measure up to her perfect older sister; her accountant father and graduate-student mother don't have time for her and consider her irresponsible and klutzy. Worse, she's convinced that they're right--until the Plummets acquire Mike through the Adopt-a-Grandparent program. While her busy family quickly loses interest in Mike, he becomes Alexandra's special friend, inspiring her to confidence by helping her recognize the value of her spontaneity and fierce caring for others; as a result, she matures and gains new respect from her family. Strauss makes Alexandra's problems wonderfully comic and real: she reads right through a fire in the house, almost kills herself rescuing a kitten, forgets the roles for softball, and argues indignantly with her mother. When her temper flares, her declarations often hit close to home. Children will identify with her straggle to ""be good"" and enjoy the friendship with Mike, which is admirably heartwarming without being soppy. A first novel of considerable promise.