Trying to juggle his job at "Taste of Italy" along with writing papers for school and his graduation requirement to volunteer at the Golden Oaks Retirement Home, class clown Derrick uses humor to get the jobs done.
Eighth-grader Derrick wants to be a stand-up comedian, but his football coach, his parents, Joe, his boss at Taste of Italy, his English teacher Dowling the Dragon, and his Mr. Perfect older brother Craig don't think he's so funny. When Derrick discovers he needs a B on an English paper to stay eligible for football, how can he tame his smart mouth to stay out of trouble?
Zack's dad drives him to his new middle school in the bug truck, and his new classmates tease him about his father's pest-control business. How can he handle the hassles?
After his dad leaves, Matt Delaney rebels and his erratic behavior lands him in the vice-principal's office. He is assigned a new class schedule which includes a cooking class. Matt is a rebel, not a joiner, and this could be a recipe for disaster.
While spending the summer on his grandparents' Texas cotton farm, Michael sees a teenage boy on the other side of the Rio Grande in Mexico. He starts to write letters to Javier, and then helps him cross the river to come into the United States.
Brothers Tim and Josh find themselves alone in the wilderness after surviving a plane crash in which the pilot dies and must make their way back to civilization.
After being adopted by Michael's family and moving from Mexico to Dallas, Javier tries to adapt to life in the United States but realizes he misses his old life in Vera Cruz, Mexico.