Orphaned Silver Nickles lives with her crusty grandfather, Pawpaw, in a tar-paper shanty. She wants a dog but Pawpaw says no, relenting only after a heart attack, and a chance to take stock. This quirky novel is satisfying despite its odd detachment from reality. The shack seems to be a lifestyle choice rather than a necessity, allaying any sense of grinding poverty. Dudley, a boy whose crush on Silver drives him to stalk her, comes across as merely eccentric. When a beauty contest crops up abruptly in the plot, there's no doubt Silver will win. Even the heart attack becomes an event from which Papaw emerges feeling better than ever. Holding it all together is Silver, a determined, wide-eyed optimist. Somehow, in the act of abandoning all credibility, High (Maizie, 1995, not reviewed) endows her story with sneaky, knock-you-over charm.