That night, Mr. Lingerle stays for dinner again, and then sits staring dreamily into the fire while drinking coffee.
Sammy and Maybeth go to bed, and Dicey and James play a game of Parcheesi.
Gram tells all of them, including Mr. Lingerle, what Maybeth’s teacher said, and that it’s up to James the Boy Genius to figure out a way to teach Maybeth reading and fractions.
James agrees to go to the library and do some reading on the subject, which makes us feel grateful for the ability to Google things nowadays.
The next day is Sunday, and Dicey’s working on the boat. Sammy comes out to help. Dicey asks him to find some sandpaper and sand the areas she’s scraped.
She brings up the subject of school and asks Sammy why he’s being so good and not playing with anybody at recess. Sammy says it’s because he doesn’t want to get angry and get into a fight. He feels guilty that he wasn’t better behaved when they were with Momma.
It's heart-to-heart time. Dicey tells Sammy he needs to be himself, even when the other kids call Gram crazy and he’s tempted to fight them. She tells him it’s okay to get into fights every now and then, and that he had nothing to do with what happened to Momma. Plus, it's not like she hasn't gotten into trouble and fights before.
Later, Dicey wears her new clothes (and bra) to school, where Mina once again tries to be nice to her. As Dicey walks away, she hears Mina’s friends telling Mina they don’t know why she wants to be friends with a honky. Real nice, guys.
It’s just another day in Diceyville: Miss Eversleigh lectures about nutrition and Dicey is bored. Jeff plays guitar and Dicey listens for a minute, then dashes off to work. After work, she goes home and scrapes the boat. Same old same old.
Before dinner, Dicey tells James he needs to get on it with the Maybeth-reading thing, and gets annoyed when he says there’s no hurry. During dinner, Sammy tries to convince Gram to get chickens, but Gram’s not into it.
Dicey keeps bugging James about Maybeth, and he keeps saying he’s working on it. But it becomes apparent he’s going to have to work harder when Maybeth comes home crying from school.
She had to read aloud that day, and she couldn’t do it, and the whole class laughed at her. Dicey gives James the major side-eye, and James tells Maybeth he’s going to teach her. He tells her they’ll go to the library and check out lots of books on how to learn to read.
Maybeth has a little hope then and stops crying. James tells her Sammy can take over the paper route, and he’ll devote his time to teaching her to read.
That Saturday night, after Maybeth and Sammy are in bed, James tells Gram and Dicey that he wants to teach Maybeth using phonics instead of whole language. He thinks that if Maybeth learned to sound out words instead of memorizing them, she might be able to learn.
Then he tells them he thinks there’s more going on with her: she’s dealing with something called "emotional overlay." In other words, she can’t learn because she’s been so overwhelmed by Momma’s problems, but now that she’s with Gram, maybe she’ll be able to relax and learn.
During James’ first lesson with Maybeth, Dicey listens in while pretending to do her homework. She listens partly to learn to help James, but partly because she wants to memorize her siblings, to know exactly who these people are that she loves and is hanging onto.