For Parable Ann (Rabble) and her mother, Sweet Hosanna, her sixth-grade year is a time of growth and change. Sweet Ho was 14 when she ran off with Ginger Starkey; he left her the next year, when Rabble was a month old. Now she's been caring for the Bigelows for four years, and it seems like a first true home. Veronica Bigelow, also 12, is Rabble's best friend, almost a sister. Then Mrs. Bigelow, deeply depressed since four-year-old Gunther's birth, erupts into frightening, bizarre behavior and is institutionalized; while she's away, the little family that's left enjoys peaceful, joyous times; Phil Bigelow reads aloud in the evening and treats the two girls as though they were both his daughters. As the year progresses, the girls take responsibility for helping the cantankerous old woman who lives alone next door; the obnoxious local bully shows signs of blossoming into Veronica's first beau; Sweet Ho goes back to school and does so well she decides to get a college degree, and narrator Rabble decides to tidy up her own grammar (a neat stylistic transition on Lowry's part). But although Rabble has surprised Phil and Sweet Ho in a tender kiss, when Mrs. Bigelow is able to come home, Sweet Ho decides to move on--both she and Rabble have more growing to do, more things in store. Lowry, with six Anastasias and several other fine books to her credit, is adept at portraying the nuances of relationships and emotions. Here she presents a lively cast of characters in an unusual plot, skillfully handled.