Gus never imagined himself a parent at thirteen. But in the war-fraught summer of 1942, while living on his grandparents' Vermont farm, he adopts a clutch of orphaned duck eggs. Gus can relate to the foundlings, as he is apart from, and yearns for, his own family. One day Gus finds a young stranger standing over the incubating eggs. Gus doesn't know what to make of her, with her tattered clothing and strange accent, but soon the girl is helping to care for the newly hatched ducklings, and she and Gus become fast friends. Not everyone shares Gus's high opinion of Louise, whose poverty-stricken French-Canadian family is shunned by the townspeople. His attempt to help his friend and her family has some embarrassing consequences and he must make retribution if he is to keep Louise's friendship. Nancy Price Graff's fluid narrative and exceptional eye for detail follow Gus during a time of food rationing, Victory gardens, watching for enemy planes-and keeping his ducks from harm.
With his father in the Army Air Corps and his mother diagnosed with tuberculosis, Gus visits his grandparents in Vermont.