Effortful, shopworn funny-business. The assumption here is not only that it's freakish to be interested in science, like ten-year-old narrator Lizzie, but that ""science"" means ""trying to find out if mold grew faster on a hot dog or a hamburger,"" and other idiotic such. Virtually the whole book is on that burlesque level. Lizzie, fixated on tarantulas, locates one at a pet shop that will cost her, with supplies, $40.68. She bas $5.57. Thanks to best-friend Tessa's weird uncle Buster--who dresses up as various characters (supposedly because he, like Lizzie, has an inferiority complex)--she gets a job taking care of a magician's menagerie. When the magician's girlfriend defects, she fills in--all this unbeknownst to her parents (from whom she's also concealing the fact that she may have sold her mother's engagement ring at a flea market). The scheme unravels because a nasty classmate squeals. But Lizzie does, true to form, get recognition, vengeance, and the tarantula. Even years back, though, this would have been pretty dreadful.