No Dotzero, Missouri, shows up in our atlases, but it's a measure of the bedrock reality of Marian Potter's story of life across the creek, alongside the railroad tracks, during the Depression, that it's hard to believe she made ""Dotzero"" up. It's also, perhaps, a measure of her inexperience that she delays telling us until nearly halfway through the book that the name came from a dot and a zero on a railroad survey (""they had to start somewhere, so they called that place Dotzero, and the name stuck""). But if the book isn't tightly structured, if it takes some time for its elements to jell into significant episodes, ten-year-old ""blatherskite"" Maureen is always lively company--making the perilous crossing on the railway trestle when the creek rises, confiding her feelings of being unappreciated to the ""face"" in the grainy, unpainted cellar door--and the circumstances are very much part of the story. It eventually coalesces when Maureen and seven-year-old Walter, peddling wreaths on the crack passenger train, find themselves bound for St. Louis without tickets--and Maureen's much-maligned nonstop talking gets them there and back. Then Walter comes down with appendicitis and may not survive the rough, slow transport over the swollen creek; so Maureen talks the stationmaster into contacting the train dispatcher, and talks the dispatcher into stopping the express by the trestle. . . where Walter can be quickly and safely sent on his way to the hospital. She also talks her grandmother out of a depression, talks the local PWA rep into supporting a bridge-building project over the creek, and more: once the story gets going, it holds up till the end. And along the way every stray character and detail falls not-too-neatly into place.