A fine collection of short stories in which Wynne-Jones (Some of the Kinder Planets, p. 564, etc.), with gentle humor and moments of quiet epiphany, taps the truth of family life and growing up in the '90s. In ""Madhouse,"" Solly thinks his family is crazy and embarrassing. They eat peas straight out of the freezer, try to balance eggs on the equinox, sit around thinking up band names, and drink from unmatched cups. Solly learns to appreciate them when he learns that matched cups can mask problems he never dreamed of. In ""Dawn,"" Barnsey is afraid he'll have to sit next to someone weird on a bus trip. With nine earrings and a two-tone mohawk, Dawn certainly looks weird, but Barnsey can see beyond appearances. Their dialogue is wonderful--perfectly timed with laugh-out-loud humor and the poignance of impossible first love. The final story, ""Gloria,"" captures the camaraderie that develops among kids during a hike in early spring. ""Some days taste so good they are like promises,"" says the narrator. Some stories do, too.