When Mike Longridge gets himself in trouble yet again, he is given a choice: juvenile detention or an outdoor program called Explore. He opts for Explore, but soon finds himself wondering how he is going to survive ten months with the hippies and keeners in the program. He's never felt so out of place and is certain he will never get the hang of the outdoor activities. Will Mike go back to his old trouble-making ways or will he finally find a place to belong?
Sable wears only black and has always felt that doom is near. Lacey wears pink and seeks beauty everywhere. A sadistic art teacher pairs Sable and Lacey together for their final project. The girls have to get to know one another and select a suitable poem for the back of each other's decorative mirror. Sable is less than thrilled at having to spend time with Lacey, who she believes to be nothing more than a brainless doll. As the project progresses, and Sable gets past her resentment, she learns some surprising truths about who Lacey really is. All of Sable's images begin to change, including the one she holds of herself.
Friends are not always for keeps. Kate and Jake have always been best friends; always, that is, until Jake's cousin, Lionel, moves nearby and Jake starts spending time with him instead. Kate struggles with his abandonment and her own loneliness as she seeks new friends that share her likes and dislikes. And, perhaps there is a place in her life for her old best friend after all.
Kate wants to enter the spelling bee, but she doesn't want to compete against her best friend. Kate is determined to win her spelling club's spelling bee, but the competition is fierce. She can almost put up with Violet's relentless claims of superior spelling ability, but when Kate and Jake begin to fight with each other, Kate is miserable. She wants to win the contest, but she doesn't want to lose her best friend.
Lawrence's dimples are far from delightful. Lawrence hates being teased about his dimples, but nothing he does seems to make any difference. Joe goes right on teasing him, and the teasing gets meaner and meaner. Finally, Lawrence notices something about his friend Stewart that may provide the tool he needs to tease-proof himself once and for all.
Maddie has big-city dreams, and this summer she's found her chance to visit New York. An art magazine is holding a portrait painting contest, and the first prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to the Big Apple. Maddie plans to win, but her mother has different plans for her: a mother-daughter adventure in organic farming. Maddie is furious. How will she find an inspiring subject for her portrait amid the goat poop and chickens? And worse, her new age mother's attempts at pig reiki are an embarrassment. But Maddie befriends the farmer's daughter, Anna, and between dodging her mother and doing her chores, she finds the perfect subject for the portrait contest.
Justin is fascinated with the aged guard dog at the corner store. He names it Smokey and sneaks the dog treats. Smokey belongs to a company that supplies working dogs to local businesses. Justin is thrilled to get a job working for Smokey's company, until he learns about the mistreatment of the animals. When Justin can't shake his suspicion that someone in the company is involved in a rash of thefts, he tries to quit. But Justin knows too much, and his boss won't let him go.