Though Kotzwinkle concocts no story line to keep beginners turning the pages, his alley is both closer to home and more richly textured than the usual easy reader setting. In Servello's roughly crosshatched blue and tan drawings Sam and Jack and Joe jump, run, climb and explore their ramshackle but tranquil small town world while Kotzwinkle tells of their Saturday adventures in a cardboard carton airplane, a junkyard, a half finished house and an old scary one, a field where Sam is carried 50 feet into the air by an old rusty crane (""This is the worst thing ever happened to me,"" Sam says to himself as he carefully climbs down the long arm), and a tarpaper shack where an old man shares his stew with them, remarking ""I saw a whale come up this river once"" -- and then ""You fellows come back in a week or so. We'll sail to Hong Kong."" Back home when Sam's mother asks him how he got the rip the crane hook had made in his pants, he answers only ""Up the alley with Jack and Joe."" A sympathetic inside view of ""'Where did you go?' 'Out.'