Short story collections at this level are scarce, and when a good one (such as Anne Moody's Mr. Death, 1975) does appear on a YA list it often seems to have wound up there by default. Mazer's more conventional stories have none of Moody's strength and sharpness, but they are clearly broadcast on a young teenager's wavelength, with the signal unobtrusively amplified as in good YA novels; and just as clearly, Mazer appreciates the short story form, with its narrow focus and spotlit moments, where others might do up the same material as diluted novels. Except for ""Zelzah,"" a resilient immigrant of ""long ago,"" these are sympathetic views of ordinary, contemporary girls and their relationships with mothers and new boyfriends. In the funniest, and shrewdest, a socially insecure girl ends up carrying limburger cheese all through her first date--maneuvered by her once-popular mother who had seemed desperate for the same success for her daughter. Elsewhere a thirteen-year-old breaks free of the loving protection of her mother, aunt, and grandmother; a working class teenager discovers her bouncy, light-hearted mother's affair; a dying eighteen-year-old pleads with her smiling mother and sister to acknowledge the truth; and there are some happy pairings as when the loner who lives in a trailer with a drunken father and uncle finds a boy who shares her enthusiasm for chocolate pudding. The modesty of the characters' social backgrounds and intellectual horizons, not to mention the brevity of the pieces, adds to the stories' appeal as sturdy rungs on a gently sloping reading ladder.