Gr 4-6 Marilyn, the enigmatic, reclusive new student in Andy's sixth-grade class, lives in the elegant resort Garden Hills, which is off-limits to her classmates. She begins to reveal herself, however, when she wins a local writing contest and is named the class poet laureate. But the family and menagerie of pets she claims in her poems seem only to be wishful fantasies, and Andy finds their friendship alternately encouraging, frustrating, and hurtful. Is her father a caretaker at the resort or a grieving former electronics executive? Did Marilyn deceive her classmates or merely exercise legitimate ``poetic license''? (It is surprising in a book by Burch to find a character's value measured by her father's financial situation. This is undoubtedly one of the issues the author wants his readers to ponder, but children may not question the equation of professional status with personal worth.) As Marilyn returns to live in California, readers are almost certain that they know the truth, but enough doubt remains to leave them thinking about her for some time. Marilyn is not nearly so memorable a character as Burch's Queenie Peavy (1966) or Ida Early (all Viking), but young readers should enjoy puzzling over the questions of truth and deception raised here. Rita Auerbach, Stratford Avenue School, Garden City, N.Y.