Gr 5-8 Like Cassedy's Maggie in Behind the Attic Wall (Crowell, 1983) , Mary Ella (M. E.) survives on her imagination. When a new girl turns up in the neighborhood, M. E. imagines their growing friendship, imagines her admiring the way M. E. ties her shoelaces at the bottom, the way the sun brings out the red highlights in M. E.'s hair. . . . What M. E. wants is a friend to admire her; what she has, instead, is an admiring older brother, painfully awkward, painfully slow, an embarrassment to M. E., and an impediment to friendship. Or so he seems until Polly barges in, turning M. E. and Morton's lives upside down, browbeating them, loving them, changing them, then leaving them as suddenly (and magically?) as she had come. Cassedy enriches her story with engaging detail, so much so that readers may find the narrative moves too slowly. Still, this is a novel to be savored, and the delights to be found here are many. Cassedy's prose is simple and sure and leisurely paced, her structure neat, if not at all straightforward. (Elements of plot are often introduced only to be dropped, then expanded upon later, a technique that adds texture and aids momentum.) Cassedy's images are vivid and telling. But best of all are her characterizations, lovingly wrought, achingly real, and unforgettable. A beautifully crafted novel, one to be lingered over and shared. Marcia Hupp, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, Conn.