Young boys like Howie will identify themselves in Mary Malone's real life creation of a fifth grader determined to be taken seriously. The Gormans' move from the big house on Elm Street to a smaller apartment in town takes Howie farther away from his best friend Andy and inspires a campaign which leads him down unmapped trails of humor, homey horror, and hard work. By being Helpful Howie to everyone, our young hero will prove his worth to his parents and perhaps persuade them to return to the old block. But the original motivation soon disintegrates as Howie finds himself immersed in a series of advantages which include making a huge pot of pea soup, running-and almost ruining-the school library, becoming assistant superintendent of his building and oddly making friends with Despicable (Stanley), the meanest boy in town. The author is forgiven her contrived and hurried solution in getting Howie back to Elm Street -- for she has given her readers a character they will long remember and placed him in situations they will surely understand.