Shirley Simon has a special way with the social miseries attendant on that special age -- the pre-junior high school girl (See Cousins at Camm Corners. 1963, p. 110, J-44). The central problem in this novel is the ""best friend"" relationship and how it can be either burdensome or rewarding; Without realizing it, 11-year-old Jenny Jason has become dependent on the constant presence of her best friend, Dot. When Dot and her family moved to another apartment building in Cleveland, Jenny couldn't quite believe that Dot would prefer the company of a new circle of friends whose leader, Edythe, made it clear that Jenny wasn't wanted. Part of Edythe's allure is the fact that her mother runs a pre-teen charm school, which Dot is aloowed to join, (Congratulations are due the author for taking a good, swift poke at that racket without lettingit take over her story.) Some of motherless Jenny's hurt and confusion is alleviated by her teen-age sister, whom she sees being smothered by a jealous best friend. The real need for friends is underlined by her sister Pauline's plight. Pauline, a lonesome (delightfully drawn) genius of five invents imaginary friends. Her presence, and that of Jenny's uninhibited grandmother, lend real humor to the deadly serious, completely realistic social jockeying that goes on in the sixth grade. The book is not going to keep any readers from willingly saddling themselves with the best friend problem, but it says more sensible things about its pitfalls than would be believed if delivered by a concerned mother.