Although not in the same league as her Mary Poppins prototype, Goldenrod, a hip, frizzy-haired twenty-year-old, is a far cry from your average mother's helper. On afternoons while Mother is at her magazine job, Goldenrod takes the five fatherless Madder children daytripping: they simply close their eyes, concentrate, and off they go. The only restriction on travel is alphabetical--they must stick to places that begin with the first letter of their names. And so Val with his interest in waterworks engineers a trip to Venice; horse-lover Laurel herds the gang off to a ranch in Laramie, Wyoming; practical Susan, whose turn comes in December, chooses sunny St. Marten; adventurous Heath has them scaling the Himalayas; and six-year-old Daisy insists on a jaunt to Danbury, Connecticut, to visit the father (a dreamy, distracted sculptor) she's never seen. For all the exotic globetrotting, the adventures are routine with Towne depending on sudden thunderstorms, a near run-in with a barracuda, and the like to drum up excitement. Even a literal cliffhanger in the Himalayas never has us doubting for a second that the Madders won't land safe and sound in their living room by the time Mother returns home. Still, there are rewards. Goldenrod with her nonchalant acceptance of her talent and her remarkable ""adaptability"" is terribly disarming, and the Madders in general are such a likeable bunch that readers will come away with pleasant souvenirs of the trip.