Gr 4-6-- Nikki has taken on responsibility for entirely too many problems in her young life. This is both the theme and the weakness of this cumbersome novel. After caring for her sick mother at some vague earlier period, she now anguishes over the family's financial insecurity due to her father's new business venture, a Mississippi riverboat. In addition to what appears to be a full-time job cleaning and running errands, Nikki assumes the burden of raising additional funds (by running a raffle and entering contests at a town festival). As if this weren't enough, she tries to organize a food and clothing drive for a hostile ex-employee of her father. The story bumps along until Nikki realizes that she can't solve everything and should save some time for herself. Such a story could have the saving grace of altruism, but this child is so puffed up with thoughts of peoples' gratitude and admiration for her deeds that she becomes distinctly unpleasant. This is a story of confused intent, with carelessly delineated characters and a vague sense of place--not the sort of fare likely to hold any but the most determined readers. --Sally T. Margolis, formerly at The Newport Schools, Kensington, Md.