Junior Blossom is poised on the roof of the barn, working up the courage to fly on homemade wings. His brother and sister are on the ground urging him on when Junior spots a police car coming up their road. Maggie and Vern run to hide in the woods, while Junior loses his grip on the roof and slides off, breaking both legs. The children's widowed mother is away working the rodeo circuit; Pap, their grandfather, has been arrested for disturbing the peace while he was, innocently enough, trying to retrieve the 2147 beer and pop cans that had spilled out of the back of his pick-up. Byars' characters are memorableespecially Vern, who manages to "break into" jail to be with Pap, thus causing a news sensation, and Ralphie, Junior's hospital roommate. The plot, however, is contrived in many ways. Readers are never told why police is "one of the most dreaded words in the family vocabulary," and credibility is stretched thin by Vern's jail break-in and by Maggie's and Ralphie's managing to wheel Juniorwith both legs in caststo Pap's hearing without being apprehended by hospital personnel. While this is not Byars' strongest book, the off-beat characters, crisp dialogue and fast-paced action will keep readers turning the pages.
We have had a great time reading this story at bed time.