Sweet stuff. It's 1938, and brother-and-sister orphans--twelve-year-old Willie, 16-year-old Penny--ride east on a train out of Des Moines. They're headed for a New England mill town (faltering in the Depression) where they'll be the wards of Aunt Addie and Uncle Lambot, spinster and bachelor, both in their forties. But Penny, an independent, precocious, headstrong, curious soul, is not looking forward to it: ""I don't want to be an Aunt Addie, and I'm not going to let her trap me into being one. Aunt Addie's got more don'ts in her body than she has corpuscles. In her book you have to learn the don'ts before the do's."" So, once arrived, Penny immediately sets out to accomplish an assortment of ""don'ts"": befriending a pregnant backwoods girl her own age; taking a clandestine trip alone to New York; and being kind to--and learning a lot from--Adam, the retarded handyman who used to work for Harriet, a woman whom Penny came to love on previous visits East (and who died in a fire just before the kids' arrival). Penny's nosiness eventually spades up whole lodes of local secrets, mostly financial and sexual--while novelist Wheaton backs her every importunate move with the admiring, patient, but also lovingly scornful figure of brother Willie, who jerks her back everytime she goes too far afield. Pleasant, PG-rated nostalgia entertainment--a nice, modulated canter over familiar but durable territory.