Snapped up by Hollywood for a remake by Spielberg, this is the best story about kids since Stand by Me. 12-year-old Martin (Copans), terrified that he will be sent to an orphanage, conceals the fact that his mother has died. His classmates band together to keep the secret and outwit the authorities. The burial of the corpse in baking foil with a grandfather clock as a coffin is funny, touching, and memorably surreal. Martin's friends steal food from home for him, learn to forge his mother's signature, and devise scams at school to derail parent meetings. The adult world - and the usual sexual rites of passage - are seen as largely irrelevant. Social workers are useless, teachers have forgotten what it was like to be a child, and there are no villains. Neither sentimental nor melodramatic, the film earns its tragic ending. Collective playing by the large cast of kids is excellent.