With a new baby coming, Hortense's parents have a lot on their minds--but their outrageous behavior proves humiliating for this Fifth grader and her 14-year-old sister Letitia. Hortense decides to befriend and impress her live-in aunt Kate by launching various projects, but mostly she just has to muddle through this confusing period, in the process losing one drippy friend while making a much more interesting one of a class misfit. A breezy, unbelievable tale, with two of the silliest parents in middle-grade fiction. Hortense's first-person narration seems more appropriate to an eighth-grader, while her child's perspective often gives way to Horvath's own adult observations. Still, if readers don't mind the sudden shifts, both Hortense and Horvath provide solid entertainment--not as dead-on as An Occasional Cow (1989) but fairly funny stuff.