Laurel, the thoughtful 10-year-old heroine of this ambitious novel, loves all her pets-snakes, rabbits, fish-and she takes good care of them, but they suffer untimely deaths. When a pet rabbit at last thrives, Laurel gets permission to mate her and cherishes dreams of raising the newborns. She successfully breeds the rabbit, but when the litter is born, the mother refuses to nurse and the babies die. Although Laurel is devastated, she mates the rabbit again, encouraged by the veterinarian. Again the mother won't nurse her offspring. The vet warns that there's very little hope of survival, but Laurel feeds them herself, and one of the six newborns pulls through.