Call it sentimental, hackneyed, contrived, cobbled-together--but there is still something endearing about eleven-year-old Londoner Mick Tooley's struggle with his feelings toward his seven-year-old brother Ange. The boys' truckdriver father just took off one day; their darling Granny Mia has just died; Mama comes home from work ""hot and tired."" So it's not surprising that Mick cleaves to attentive teacher Mr. Rivers and also resents having ""to see to Ange's safety, to feed his hungry stomach, to help with the shopping, to make Mama's tea, to save Mama from Ange's endless demands. . . ."" Mick has a friend, Napoleon Leroy from Jamaica, whose kindness, patience, and sagacity in such situations is both a reproach to Mick and an attraction, a touchstone. Then--after Mick has seesawed, incident-by-incident, between tenderness toward Ange, and irritation--comes a crisis: Leon gives Mick a coveted souvenir sand pencil; Ange inadvertently causes it to break; Mick cruelly verates him; Ange runs off--and, predictably, is run down. Mick is contrite, of course, and quick to beg Ange's forgiveness. But it's the transformation of landlord Mr. Logie from crank to affectionate, solicitous friend that's proof, to Mick, that ""magic . . . could be a real part of everyday life."" He sees his mother's loneliness, sees the three of them as a family, sees himself as ""bigger and different."" Though the mechanism creaks, the emotions are touching and credible.