Contemporary children straggle with ethical dilemmas in these sensitive and involving short stories, with black-and-white chapter illustrations to draw readers in. In ""The Sand Artist,"" Rainbow likes her life with her hippie mother in a little but near the beach, and isn't sure she wants to move with her back to the city. Sam, a character who appears in several stories, is a computer nerd whose cyber-skills help him ""get a life"" in the real world. In ""Babysitting Kwon Lin,"" Richard learns to overcome language differences when he is abruptly drafted into taking care of his landlord's niece, who speaks only Chinese. In the title story, Jim and Angle escape their family problems by hanging out at a nearby creek that's polluted; when they discover that it used to be a spawning bed for salmon, they decide to clean up the creek in order to bring back the fish. In fact, Valgardson (Winter Rescue, 1995, etc.) repeatedly affirms youngsters' affinity for the natural world: In several of the stories the young protagonists attempt to restore to nature what adults have damaged. Ultimately, it's the author's recognition of how children and teenagers adapt to new situations and how they grapple with moral issues that make these tales ring true.