Herewith -- Junior Brown, a 300-pound musical prodigy who plays a silenced piano so as not to disturb his asthmatic, overprotective mother; Buddy Clark, his homeless friend and real protector, member of a city-wide network of "Tomorrow Billys" who care for needy street kids in underground "planets"; Mr. Pool, a compassionate teacher-turned-janitor who hides the boys for ten weeks in the school basement, where they construct a mechanized solar system instead of attending their eighth-grade classes; Miss Peebs, an aging music teacher who transmits to Junior her delusion of a filthy, diseased relative in her living room.
Such a list can't begin to convey the impact of this disturbing story, which ends with Buddy and Mr. Pool lowering the unhinged runaway Junior to Buddy's planet, where the younger boys will help him according to Buddy's teachings: "We are together because we have to learn to live for each other." Adults will find the boys' grotesque world strong substance in a juvenile novel, as indeed it is, but children of any color (these boys are black) who are attuned to the bizarre elements in their own cosmos will be encouraged by the emerging planets, evidence of Mr. Pool's belief that the human race is still to come, and that his boys are "forerunners on the road down which the race (will) have to pass."
This is not a story to be judged on grounds of probability, but one which makes its own insistent reality; it endures along with its promise long after the story ends.