THE BEARS' HOUSE
When their father leaves home and their mother becomes too ill to function, Fran Ellen and her brother Fletcher attempt to keep the family together by hiding their plight from welfare investigators and teachers. Thumbsucking Fran Ellen, more isolated and defenseless than her predecessor Veronica Ganz, finds solace with a family of bears who inhabit the doll's house in the corner of her schoolroom. Though the fantasy, more the product of desperation than imagination, is fairly thin it helps to cushion Fran Ellen (and the reader) against the inevitable breakup. Despite the desolate environment it's a story of strength, for Fran Ellen's apparently meager resources prove sufficient to her needs and the potential stickiness of neglected waifs fixing their own Kool-Aid lunches is offset by restrained prose and the realistically shabby but affectionate drawings of Louis Glanzman.