Kate, 15, has been sent to her Australian grandparents to escape the London Blitz. But just as she's getting used to her mother's pleasant but dithery parents, Sydney Harbor is torpedoed and they decide to send her to Grandma Tucker, whom Kate has always been told is a wealthy old curmudgeon who dislikes Kate's parents and never communicates with them. Arriving in the remote community of Parsons Creek, Kate discovers some extraordinary truths, beginning with the fact that Grandma actually works as a ""char"" to earn meager support. The pattern is familiar: although painfully shy and often awkward, Kate makes several good friends, finds out the truth about her family as well as about Grandma's mysterious Italian neighbors, and heals several rifts. Some of the details are unlikely--e.g., quite a bit hinges on who does and doesn't know that Grandma is totally deaf, although she is at no particular pains to keep it secret. But Pople writes engagingly, with a wealth of authentic detail; her characters are entertainingly offbeat; and her lively action, while full of humor, also bears out Granny's wise observations--""knowledge brings obligations"" and ""people do what they have to do, because of being what they are.