The loneliness, adjustments, and ups-and-downs of Maria's stay with Mrs. Bloom when her mother has a nervous breakdown and her father, a cruise ship captain, is off at sea. Mrs. Bloom is cross and makes her go to bed early, and Maria is unhappy at first, even making a couple of amusing attempts to run away. But readers soon realize that the brusque woman isn't all that bad, and gradually--without the author making too much of it--Maria comes to recognize that too. Maria makes a chatterbox friend at school, which helps; her beloved though retarded little brother Erik comes to Mrs. Bloom's on weekends; and when Maria is sick, she is well cared for. Then Mrs. Bloom breaks her leg and Maria feels important helping out. (""How lucky you're here, Maria,"" says Mrs. Bloom.) Mrs. Bloom's livelier younger sister, who has already taken in Maria and Erik's dog, comes to help too, and brings some fun and romance to the house. Still, Maria cries under her bed when the tooth she puts under her pillow is not exchanged for money. But at last both parents come home and collect their children, and it appears that Mrs. Bloom will actually miss Mafia. Like other translations we've seen from the Dutch, this is projected with empathy for Maria, unforced sympathy for all, a vein of warm humor that keeps Maria's unhappiness in perspective, and some delicacy in putting it all across.