Calvin, a fairly ordinary boy, spends his afternoons among a cast of determined eccentrics. Ms. Eva, a jazz dancer, takes care of him after school, along with his brother, Monk, a precocious budding 7-year-old poet who acts like a little old man and carries bookishness to an extreme, and neighbor Jenny, who is practicing to become a magician. Calvin is lonely and longs for a pet, which his parents won't permit. The closest he comes to having a pet is when Jenny gets a hamster, Pizzazz, for her magic act. Quattlebaum (Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns, 1994) has written an enjoyable book that is populated with likable characters who are devoted to artistic and intellectual pursuits--a notable accomplishment. Young readers, however, may be frustrated by the way Calvin is treated by his parents. He is almost obsessively responsible, yet they dismiss him as irresponsible; they repeatedly punish him when he successfully acts for the benefit of others. This unfairness is neither noted directly by the author nor resolved, marring an otherwise lighthearted work.