Conly, Jane Leslie. While No One Was Watching. Henry Holt, 1998. ISBN 0805039341. $16.95. 233 pp. A 5+ FI Reviewed by Gabi Kupitz In the course of helping his older brother and their cousin steal bicycles in an affluent neighborhood, young Frankie becomes the inadvertent rescuer of a bicycle robbery victim’s pet rabbit. He hides the rabbit from his cousin, who is a hardcore bully and thief. Keeping the rabbit out of harm’s way and trying to find some food for himself and the rabbit occupies Frankie’s summer. Frankie’s widower father has been gone for weeks looking for work. Frankie and his two siblings are now on their own after their guardian, Aunt Lula, fails to return from a drinking binge. Unbeknownst to the abandoned children, the owner of the stolen bikes and rabbit engages her eager neighbor to help her find Flag, her pet rabbit. One adventure leads to another as the teenage neighbor sleuths venture into the inner city against their parents’ wishes. Their sleuthing saves not only Flag, but the victim of another robbery attempt, and the abandoned children themselves. Conly has written a page-turner that reveals the dark side of the inner city, but with an element of hope. The characters are well-shaped, and through them runs a gamut of emotions and human intentions. What the affluent teens find, once they journey to the inner city, is people much like themselves minus the economic advantages. The abandoned children find genuine friendship and caring young people and adults who set in motion the processes that will unite the children and their single, hardworking father.
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