Rob's friend Soup can talk him into just about anything -- rolling downhill in a barrel, smoking cornsilk in an acorn pipe, and even cheating old Mr. Diskin by hiding a stone inside a tinfoil ball they're selling him for movie money. But at the end when Rob cries because ""I only get hurt"" while Soup gets new orange shoes which squeak ""just like you have birds between your toes,"" it's Soup who insists on swapping shoes on the first day the new pair is worn to school. Peck starts the ten separate homespun reminiscences of his Vermont childhood with crafty attention getters such as ""I don't think we ought to do it, Soup"" or ""'You're afraid.' 'No I'm not.' 'Then what are you standing there for?'"" The mood ranges from rapture over the dewy September taste of a silver football valve to more earthbound reactions to Janice Ricker, a twelve-year-old with ""the body of a hunchedback, bowlegged ape and the brainpower of a bean,"" who would tie you to a tree, gag you with one of her smelly old stockings, and then stuff a bug up your nose. These nostalgic sketches all seem somehow closer to Tom Sawyer's time than to our own, but Peck clearly remembers how it was.