When Renata is chosen to play the lead role in the school musical, students who used to ignore her start saying hello and congratulating her in the hall. She is happy until it becomes evident that Karin, a wealthy girl who expected to get the lead role, will go to great lengths to ruin Renata's reputation.
Juggling soccer, school, friends and family leaves John with little time for anything else. But one day at the local community center, following the sound of drums, he stumbles into an Indigenous dance class. Before he knows what's happening, John finds himself stumbling through beginner classes with a bunch of little girls, skipping soccer practice and letting his other responsibilities slide. When he attends a powwow and witnesses a powerful performance, he realizes that he wants to be a dancer more than anything. But the nearest class for boys is at the Native Cultural Center in the city, and he still hasn't told his family or friends about his new passion. If he wants to dance, he will have to stop hiding. Between the mocking of his teammates and the hostility of the boys in his dance class, John must find a way to balance and embrace both the Irish and Cree sides of his heritage.
Daniel Abel is surprised when, instead of being punished for "pantsing" another eighth-grader, he is invited to become an ambassador of Mountview High at the school's upcoming open house. What he doesn't realize is that he is part of a social experiment on bullying being conducted by the local university. He is a little nervous to learn he will be working with Jeff Kover, a tenth-grader with a reputation for being the biggest bully in the school. Daniel has never thought of himself as a bully. He just likes kidding around. But hanging out with Jeff will change Daniel's perspective on bullying and force him to examine his own behavior.
Ayla loves climbing. But she prefers to climb indoors, with all her safety harnesses in place and soft mats to land on. Her climbing partner and best friend, Lissy, is much more adventurous and loves the outdoors. When Lissy starts hanging out with Carlos, the new thrill-seeking guy in town, Ayla wants to keep an eye on her and finds herself tagging along on a weekend climbing trip up Black Dog Mountain. But things go very wrong when Lissy and her dad, the only adult in the group, are badly injured high on the side of the mountain. Suddenly the risks of climbing become very real. Ayla and Carlos need to figure out how to get help, and every decision they make could have catastrophic consequences.
Jane has no interest in boys. Her mom, Sherry, has brought home so many creeps over the years that Jane has decided to focus for the next five years on her studies. Her best friend, the boy-crazy Kiara, is obsessed with online quizzes and convinces Jane to help her create a questionnaire that will determine whether muscular Liam or Omar with the cute eyes is her true soul mate. Their friendship is tested when the answers come back with a surprising third option, the quiet and awkward Javier. Jane fails to reveal the results, which leads to some heated words being exchanged and long-held resentments (and possible secret crushes) being revealed. One of the besties will have to swallow her pride to make the first move and try to repair the damage.
Even though he's secretly terrified of deep water, and all the scary things that swim below, Tate wants to shake his boring reputation, and he agrees to travel with his class up the Amazon River to help build a village school. He has his fingers and toes crossed that he won't see any giant snakes or hungry piranhas. But there are even scarier things than anacondas lurking in the jungles of South America, and Tate soon learns of the legend of El Tunchi, a vengeful spirit that terrorizes those who harm the rainforest. When creepy things start happening and Tate keeps hearing El Tunchi's haunting whistle, he's sure the group must have angered someone. Or something. He and his friends need to figure out a way to make amends and get out of the jungle alive.
When it comes to cross-country running, Jake does everything right. He eats all the right foods, trains like crazy and reads articles about running in his spare time. There's nothing easy about running, but the hardest part for Jake is that, at the end of the day, Spencer Solomon always wins first place. Determined to take the lead for once, Jake continues to push himself even more. His rigorous training schedule leaves no time for friends, family, pizza or joking around. When Jake is invited to join the Diamond Running Club, he thinks he's found an opportunity to train harder. Instead, with the help of his coach, Jake begins to rediscover what he used to love about running in the first place.
Northern Ireland. In 1999, one year after the Good Friday peace accord, sectarian violence still runs rampant in Belfast and the hatred between Protestant and Catholic runs deep. Liam O'Donnell's father is a peacemaker to the Catholic community. When twelve-year-old Liam's parents are brutally murdered in front of him, he is frozen in place. But when he sees the face of one of the attackers, he is forced to run for his life. Escaping, he finds shelter with a neighboring family. Taken to a police safe house, Liam is betrayed and forced to run again, from the very people who are supposed to be protecting him. Can he escape from his pursuer? Is there anywhere to turn for help?
When Shawn and Daniel witness a gang beating behind the local mall they flee the scene, terrified that they've been seen. They recognize one of the attackers as a locally infamous gang member. When they learn that the kid who was attacked is in critical condition, Shawn wants to go to the police, but Daniel convinces him that they are in more danger if they speak up. The threats they receive from other members of the gang reinforce the boys' fears. When the gang attacks Daniel, Shawn has to put his own safety at risk to help his friend.
Fifteen-year-old Zack finds a homemade CD with the word Famous written on it. Lonely and bored while suspended from school, he puts the CD on and loses himself in the music. Zack has sound-color synesthesia. He sees colors when he hears music, and the music on the Famous CD causes incredible patterns of color for him. Zach becomes obsessed with the girl on the CD and tries to find her. He tracks down the singer, Jolene, in a café where she works while she dreams of the big time. He convinces her to let him help her achieve her dreams, but soon discovers that in her quest for fame, Jolene has done a lot of damage. Stuff We All Get is a gentle critique of celebrity culture in North America.
Kip's only friends are the members of the Daredevil Club, a club whose mission is to complete seven dangerous dares before their rivals, the Wildmen, complete their list of dares. Before the cliff diving accident in which he lost the use of his leg, Kip had been the leader of the Daredevil club. Now he has difficulty completing the dares and suspects that his membership is threatened. As the daredevils plan their final stunt, a dangerous climb along a narrow steel shelf beneath a bridge, they try to convince Kip that he may not be up to the task. Kip refuses to back down even though he suspects his friends might be right.
Keegan and Alex are the only kids in Leamington who haven't volunteered to help out with the town's annual tomato festival. In an attempt to teach them a sense of responsibility, their fathers put them in charge of the tomato toss. The boys decide it's their responsibility to add a little excitement to the event. They exchange the traditional wooden targets for human targets and, before they know it, they are running the most popular event at the fair. The excitement may be too much for the sleepy town and soon the tomato toss is taken to the streets.
Dana is excited about her school trip to Japan despite the fact that she is surrounded by the Melly Mob, "in-crowd" kids who make fun of her. Dana is certain she will be less of an outsider in Japan, home of manga and anime. But she soon discovers that it's just as difficult to fit in with a foreign culture as it is to fit in at school. And the only other manga fan that she meets refuses to talk to her. As Dana learns to meet people halfway and gains some friends in Japan, Melissa, leader of the Melly Mob, makes every effort to remind her that she's still an outsider.
Callie's mother has chained herself to the neighbor's tree and is living inside the treehouse. She refuses to come down until the neighbor, Mr. Wilson, agrees to leave the tree standing. Soon reporters arrive to interview Callie about her mother's protest. Callie doesn't want to talk to anyone. More chaos ensues when Callie's grandmother invites the "singing grannies" to help save the tree, the neighbor's biker friends come to her aid, and Callie's friends show up to try to get themselves on TV. Callie needs to figure out how to get her mother to come down from the tree so that her life can return to normal.
Linda is shy and avoids getting involved at school. But when her high school sets up online chat rooms she can't resist the urge to visit them. Fuelled by interest in a student with the nickname Cyrano, Linda participates in online conversations using the nickname Roxane and gains a reputation as the queen of one-liners. Soon Linda starts receiving gifts from a secret admirer who signs his gifts, "C." She is certain that her life has taken a turn for the better until "C" reveals his true identity.
Claire's life is a mess. She's failing math, her depressed mother won't get off the couch, Eric, the boy of her dreams, is dating her nemesis Lucy. While Claire is wishing her life were better, lightning strikes. Soon afterward, everything changes. With Lucy in the hospital and out of the way, Claire attracts Eric's attention and gets the starring role in the school play. But good fortune has a cost: her newly energized mother reconciles with her deadbeat dad, the dream boy turns out to be a dud and Claire feels terrible guilt about gaining everything Lucy has lost. But how can Claire turn it around when lightning only strikes once?
When Cody and his friends accept a challenge from a local gang to steal a park bench, their main concern is keeping themselves on the gang's good side. Cody learns that the stolen bench had been dedicated to the father of the English teacher who sponsors the school newspaper; the paper that Cody has just started writing for - and he's worried about the consequences. As the gang applies pressure for more from Cody and his friends, he realizes they've crossed a line, and now he has to figure out how to make it right.
When Charlie Sykes wakes up in hospital in St. John's, he learns that he and his father have been in a car accident and that his father is dying. Charlie inherits little more than the brass key that his father pressed into his hand before he passed away. As far as Charlie knows, he has no family in Newfoundland. But then Uncle Nick shows up and is keen to meet his nephew-not because of who Charlie is, but rather because of what Charlie has: the key. That key will unlock a treasure Uncle Nick began searching for more than thirty years earlier. And he would have found it all those years ago if he hadn't been arrested and sent away for murder. But Charlie isn't convinced he should give up the key. He leads Uncle Nick on a wild chase through old St. John's, across Signal Hill and out to the coast. There, high above the rugged Atlantic, Charlie finally comes face-to-face with Uncle Nick, the treasure, and a family history that will leave him with a new understanding of where he comes from and where he's going.
Twelve-year-old Astrid has come to Ghana with her family in 1979 so that her father can help oversee Ghanas first democratic election. Astrid and her brother, Gordo, were told it would be a great family adventure, but they soon find out that everything about Ghana is difficult; the heat, the food, the threat of disease, the soldiers on the roads, the schools. Gordo fits in more easily than Astrid, who is often left to look after her baby sister, Piper, as their mother begins to fall apart under the strain of living in Ghana. When the government is overthrown, Gordo comes down with malaria and a soldier threatens her family, Astrid is surprised to discover how protective she has become of her new home.
When grade-eight science-project time rolls around, J.J. Murphy skips the beakers and the papier mâché and dives into research about jerks. And idiots. But mostly jerks. By his own estimation, his science project, On a Scale from Idiot to Complete Jerk, is groundbreaking, exhaustive, highly scientific and seriously worthy of bonus marks. Beginning with the dawn of humankind and concluding conclusively with a very cool pie chart, the project dissects the elements of jerkosity through extensive case studies and scientific illustrations. It explores the who, what, when, why and how of jerks and, more important, peppers the lively research with sciencey-looking graphs and charts that reveal a lot about J.J., his family and friends, and the jerks of this world.
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.
After a lifetime of New Age “adventures” with her weirdo hippie mom, fifteen-year-old Maddie is realizing a lifelong dream and visiting New York City. Armed with her 130-item to-do list, Maddie hits the streets of New York with her friend Anna and Anna’s brother, Thomas. Maddie drags her friends around on an epic quest for the ultimate art-show outfit, oblivious to the fact that they don’t share her passion for vintage clothing. Three days into the trip, a most unwelcome surprise--the arrival of Maddie’s mother--threatens to derail the entire adventure. As her mother’s obsession with dietary trends and fortune-tellers takes center stage, and everyone’s tempers get thin, Maddie has to face some ugly facts about how she’s been treating her friends.
When Jason agrees to go camping with his cousin Sean, he doesn’t picture two weeks at a War of 1812 reenactment camp. But that’s where he ends up. The historically accurate camp bans all trappings of modern life, like cell phones and electricity. Jason is not impressed, but they do get to fire muskets, and he secretly likes that, despite the general dorkiness of the camp. And then there’s the cute girl who works in the mess tent. And the sneaking around at night getting into trouble, which is fun—until Jason and his friends keep running into a camp counselor who is clearly up to no good. They resolve to find out exactly what the counselor is up to, but they may have taken on more than they can handle.
Jordie’s cousin Todd has moved back to Montreal and is attending Jordie’s high school. Todd has autism and requires an aide. Todd has not been welcomed in the school. He’s known as a freak, and even other parents seem to resent Todd’s special needs. Jordie does everything he can to distance himself from his cousin, fearful of what his friends might think. When he learns that Todd’s whole family is buckling under the pressure of a hateful letter, Jordie starts to question his own behavior. But Todd’s resources are unique, and he soon finds a way to prove his worth to his peers and to the community at large. Inspired by real-life events, Hate Mail examines the transformative power of speaking out against prejudice.
Chloe thinks of herself as a normal teenage girl—if there's any such thing—until a formless alien being inhabits her body. The being is named Welkin and claims to be a Universal. Welkin has entered Chloe's body as part of a school project. Chloe agrees to let this weirdo observe her life for three days as long as Welkin doesn't interfere. Welkin tries to respect the non-interference portion of the agreement. But Welkin's stream of alien commentary as Chloe deals with boys, her coach and math homework has a comic, and sometimes enlightening, impact on Chloe's life.