Benny's mother has finally had it with the junk that his father brings home, especially since he has lost the "store" he was renting to keep it all. She moves out, leaving Benny to try to keep his father in line. Luckily, his very small town has some other supportive adults; his father's friend Myron hires Benny to work at his fledgling radio station, so he can pay the phone bill, his teacher brings him clothing and personal hygiene items, and he is able to confide some of his troubles to his friend Stormy. When one of the teachers enters a contest for America's Most Charming Small Town, his father's messy house (and we're talking SO messy that his father takes all the interior doors off at one point because they take too much room to open and there are rats in the house) comes under attack. Miss Turnipson wasn't completely truthful in her account of Dennis Acres, portraying it as a place with a fountain, gardens, and English thatched roof cottages, so when the town wins and officials are on their way to look at the town and give every household a new computer that will ONE DAY be able to hook up to a world wide network, the town scrambles to fix things up. Can Benny keep it together until his mother comes back to take care of him?
Appealing story, very good sense of place, and a problem that an unfortunate number of children have to deal with make this a book that lends itself to class discussion.