Life is hard for ten-year-old Safiyah in the Kibera slum outside Nairobi. Too poor to go to school, she makes a meager living for herself and her grandmother Cucu by selling things she finds at the garbage dump. After using scavenged paper to fix up the inside of the hut, Safiyah starts a mural on the outside. As word of the paper house spreads, Safiyah begins to take pride in her creation. When Cucu collapses after a fire, Safiyah stays at the hospital to help care for her grandmother. While Safiyah is away, her friend Pendo works on the mural, which upsets Safiyah. But when Pendo attracts media attention to the paper house, Safiyah and her grandmother are given a chance of a better life.
Murphy and his three friends, Danny, Jeff and Albert, are making the transition from the tribal elementary school to the community middle school. They are all trying out for the middle school's soccer team, and they're pretty confident that The Formidable Four will all make the team. But once the tryouts begin, Albert, the tribal-school superstar, plays like a second stringer. Murphy's new friend, Molly, is determined to help the boys find out what's wrong with Albert, but when they discover the truth, they realize that Albert is playing a whole different game.
Addison Addley hates math. He hates public speaking too. Actually, he hates anything that involves work, but he only has a couple of weeks to write and memorize his grade five speech. The problem is, he cant think of a single topic. When he finally comes up with an excellent idea for a speech, it almost writes itself, but it's his poor math skills that make speech day unforgettable.
Addison's mother wants to sell their comfortable old house and move into a townhouse in a new development across town; a shoe box near a shoe factory, Addison calls it. As usual, Addison's brain goes into overdrive as he tries to solve two problems: first he must get his mother to see their old house in a new light, and then he must figure out who is responsible for a rash of neighborhood break-ins that make his mother feel unsafe. With the help of his friend Sam, he puts his own unique spin on optical illusions (and home decor) and ends up surprising everyone, even himself.
Addy has worn hearing aids for as long as she can remember. Her mother tells her this makes her special, but now that Addy's in grade six, she wants to be special for what she's done. When Addy joins the school running club to keep her best friend, Lucy, company, she discovers she is a gifted runner. Lucy isn't, which is problematic. Further troubles surface when Addy gets paired on a school project with Sierra, a smart, self-assured new classmate who wears a cochlear implant. Addy is surprised to discover hearing loss is all they have in commonand a shared disability is not enough of a foundation for a friendship. True friends support each other, even if they have different passions and dreams. More importantly, Addy comes to understand that she is defined by more than her hearing loss. She has the power to choose how people will see her, and she does.
Ten-year-old Rosario Ramirez and her family are political refugees from Mexico, trying to make a new life in Canada. After being teased at school, Rosario vows not to speak English again until she can speak with an accent that's one hundred percent Canadian. Since she and her parents plan to spend the whole summer working on BC fruit farms, she will be surrounded by Spanish speakers again. But when her family's closest friend Jose gets terribly sick, Rosario's plans start to unravel. Neither Jose nor Rosario's parents speak English well enough to get him the help he needs. Like it or not, Rosario must face her fears about letting her voice be heard.
Jeremy longs for a pet, but he doesn't know what kind of pet to get. When his parents agree that he can start a pet-sitting business in order to try out a variety of species, Jeremy has no idea what adventures are in store for him. Pet after pet is eliminated from his "To Get" list. In the end, not a single animal seems suited - until a favorite relative comes up with a surprising solution.