This is one of those realistic problem stories, unamplified by secondary concerns but imagined and told with sympathy and patience. It starts when Jonas learns that his best friend Frankie will have to repeat third grade, and it takes the two boys through a few bad days--with Frankie sensitive and gloomy and Jonas inadvertently hurting or alienating him. Finally Jonas, the smartest boy in the class, decides to play dumb so that he too will be kept back. It doesn't work, and it moves Jonas' mother to ask whether it's Frankie's grief or thoughts of his own boredom without Frankie that is bothering him. But the ploy does impress Frankie, and as soon as that's cleared up the two boys learn that extra help from Jonas now and a special make-up summer class might allow Frankie to pass. This last-minute encouragement, coming after Frankie had been told the decision was final, seems to undercut the whole thrust toward facing the problem. Otherwise, it's an honest and understanding scenario.