Some rather unpleasant truths of the adult world are revealed to a small boy in these fictional childhood reminiscences. Young Richard first discovers his potential isolation from his parents when he produces a guilty secret by drowning a kitten. Then death appears several times - his distant grandfather dies in Germany after a family farewell in New York; his loved alcoholic actor Uncle Fritz commits suicide, bringing an end to an enchanted kingdom of fantasy; retarded John dies when he is the victim of some boys' sadistic orgy; and the butcher's horse dies on the street. Sex rears a puzzled visage as Richard is tentatively accosted by an artist; some pranks at camp sneer at adult rule; and Richard trains for the vocation as a priest by spending the night in an empty church. Although the adventures are dramatic, their emotional content does not match the situations. Except for the delightful portrait of vigorous Father Coach, the adults are dim, and Richard's Penrodian detachment does not keep pace with the events. Obviously a labor of lethargy.