Cassedy deals with the pain engendered in a family with a retarded child, in a way understandable to a middle-grader. Mary Ella (M.E.) is an intelligent girl who proudly tells everyone that she goes to Agnes Daly School for the Gifted. She doesn't have many friends, though, because the neighborhood kids see her as snobbish, and the rich girls at Agnes Daly look down on her. Her real problem is not only that she fears but feels ashamed of her retarded older brother, Morton. One summer, M.E. makes friends with a new girl who is equally happy spending time with Morton or M.E. Polly is visiting her grandmother because of trouble at home, but seems content to find enjoyment in her own imaginative use of whatever life has to offer. Adult readers can see how her stress makes her cruel, but M.E. accepts her at face value. When a terrible accident happens to Morton, M.E. finally confronts both her own feelings and her parents', and there is a resolution, if not a fairy-tale happy ending. Like Summer of the Swans and Jellybean, this handles a difficult life situation well; it is realistic but shows the child taking responsibility for her own responses to stress. A real novel, not just a problem book.