"What else is on your 'Bad Things'
list?" Carlie urged.
"Nothing. I've just got the
appendectomy so far."
"Well, write down two broken legs,"
Carlie suggested. "I wouldn't exactly call them the fun event of
the year." She paused. "If it was me, I'd make that number two and
three, wouldn't you, Thomas J? Number two, right leg. Number three,
After all, when your own father drives
over your legs, you really should account for both of them. Harvey
has other lists, too, lists of people he is afraid of and of gifts
he got that he didn't want. Carlie has it figured that his problem,
like her own and Thomas J's, is that he is a pinball. Pinballs
don't get to settle where they want.
But under the influence of their foster
parents and each other, Carlie's cynicism is eclipsed by her
determination to bring Harvey out of his despondency; and the
earnest Thomas J begins to find his own identity. Even Carlie is
willing to conclude that the three are not pinballs, after all.
Betsy Byars' upbeat story of children
disappointed by their parents is often funny and always