Told in a subjective, impressionistic first person, this British import begins with almost-ten-year-old Michael cringing before a classmate's ""dirty-knuckled"" fist; and through most of the story he seems to be either suffering as a victim or sympathizing with other victims. He is terrified of his music teacher but forced to take lessons; his parents are astoundingly heartless and distant, and his mother is a scold besides; there's a strike on at the factory his father owns and he worries about other fathers who are out of work; he wants to be a part of the gang but his ""posh"" family keeps him on the outskirts; and he is repeatedly jumping in to rescue an older, retarded girl whom the other kids pick on. Carrick well projects the little boy's misery and the intensity of his feelings, though there is a sort of sniveling or self-pitying tone. Then suddenly we seem to be reading a different story: Michael becomes part of a caper-like gang effort to save their friendly ice cream dealer from unfair competition; his music teacher moves mercifully away; his parents show concern and affection--and his Dad is revealed as a kindly employer who had not fired the strike leader as believed but arranged for the man to have an eye operation. The odd introspective child who will sympathize with Michael to begin with might find all this something of a betrayal.