Van de Sande Bakhuyzen's first youth film tells the absurdist and adventurous story of nine-year-old Lepel (Joep Truijen), whose parents mysteriously disappeared during a balloon ride. Lepel now lives with a mean grandma (Loes Luca) who needs the boy for his flair for arithmetic: Lepel counts and sorts stolen buttons to supply grandmother's shop. His arithmetical talents are also useful to the schoolteacher, who wants to play Lepel as his trump at a mental arithmetic contest. Panic breaks out when one day the boy disappears in a department store. With grandma and the schoolmaster close on his heels, Lepel hides in the store with Pleun, a girl that lives behind a pile of sweaters in the men's wear department. A salesman who is secretly in love with the head of the department finds out that Lepel's parents may never come back and takes Pleun on a search for a new mother for Lepel. Inadvertently, the department head also gets involved in the plot. Lepel was shot in the almost absurdist decor of the East-German town of Gera. Awarded a Golden Film.