Seventeen-year-old Mark "Shark" Hewitt is good at playing pool. Really good. When he, his mom and sister move to a new town, Mark immediately seeks out the local pool hall. He loves to play, but even more than that, he just loves hanging out with the regulars. It reminds him of good times with his dad, who is no longer in the picture. When one of the patrons notices Mark's natural gift for the game, he forces Mark to use his talent for profit. Now Mark has to find a way to get out from under this sleazeball's thumb and protect his family.
Fifteen-year-old Natalie is obsessed with ballet and plans to spend the entire summer in dance class with her two best friends. But when her mom gets a job out of town, Natalie gets shipped off to stay with cousins she barely knows. Natalie is thrilled when her cousins invite her to join them at the local dance studio. But it turns out it's not a ballet class; it's Irish dance. Skeptical at first, Natalie is surprised to learn she really enjoys the new dance style and agrees to take part in an upcoming competition. But this new passion could result in Natalie having to leave her ballet dreams behind.
Fourteen-year-old Ava is thrilled when she lands a part in a play based on the true story of orphans sent to Canada in the 1800s to work on farms. But is she good enough to hold her own in a professional production? As the rehearsal pressures crank up, Ava struggles with her character, with the vocal demands of outdoor theater and with the annoying ego of her castmate Kiefer. But as she learns more about the historical Lily on which her part is based, things begin to fall into place. Then one bad decision jeopardizes Ava's chances of being able to perform on opening night.
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.
For as long as he can remember, Matt has wanted to play basketball. Now, as he tries out for the team at his new middle school, he realizes that the easy days of elementary ball are over and that this is a much more serious game. Dealing with a hard-driving coach, competitive teammates and his own insecurities in a new school, Matt needs to call on all his skills, both on and off the court, to make the team and keep his head above water. When he is involved, albeit unwittingly, in tagging a store with racist graffiti, Matt finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for. And when he fights back against an aggressive teammate and is threatened with suspension from the team, he learns that it is not only game-time decisions that count, but also the choices made after the crowd has gone home and the gym is silent.
Nick and Kia get excited when their school gym teacher announces a "three-on-three" basketball tournament. The two most dedicated players in grade three, they know they'll be tough to beat. But when Nick finds out they'll be up against teams in grade four and five, he is ready to throw in the towel before they start. How can shrimps like them ever hope to beat the older kids? Kia, however, is undaunted. They need a third player for their team anyway, she reasons, so why not go after the best player in the school? Marcus is bigger, tougher and in grade five. But it's not as easy as Kia thinks to convince Marcus to join their team. And there's no guarantee the older boy won't change his mind before the tournament begins. Marcus is often uneasy around them, but worse, Kia and Nick find themselves making enemies of some of the kids in the upper grade. Nick realizes it's going to take more than skill at basketball to win this tournament and make friends with Marcus without becoming targets for the older kids off the court. Book 1 in the series.
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.
When first-year film student Spencer O'Toole is asked to make a music video for a band, he leaps at the chance. But Jerry, Spencer's dad, shows up, and somehow the band assumes he's in charge, despite the fact that he has zero background in film. And then there's Scratch, violent gang member turned sleazy music producer, who keeps making big promises but fails to deliver on a single one. Spencer has no idea how he's going to get this thing made. When the band invites him and his dad up to a cottage for the weekend, Spencer takes the opportunity to ditch Jerry. But one small fib snowballs into dozens of lies, and soon Spencer finds himself in way over his head.
Max knows his mom can't afford to send him to summer camp. But he really, really wants to go. He needs a break from looking after his autistic brother, Duncan. And from his mom's new boyfriend. He is surprised when his mom says that he can go after all. But there's a catch. There are spots available at the camp for families with special needs. A grant would cover Duncan's fees, and Max could attend at no charge. If he goes as Duncan's escort. This is the second story featuring Max and Duncan after Maxed Out.
In 1930 nine-year-old Miriam travels by train from Brooklyn to her grandparents' farm in upstate New York. Her grandparents are kind, generous people, but they aren't exactly ideal playmates for a lonely girl. When Miriam is not doing homework in the kitchen with Bubby or helping prepare meals for the migrant workers that Zayde hires to help out on the farm, she plays with the barn kittens born just before she arrived. Those kittens are her only friends, until the day Miriam discovers a young girl hiding in the barn. Cissy and her brother, Joe, who's one of Zayde's farm hands, are on the run from an abusive uncle back in Mississippi. Miriam and Cissy hit it off immediately. But their friendship is tested when Miriam is forced to choose between keeping a promise and doing the right thing.
Junior Canadian Ranger Tommy Toner has a terrible secret. During the annual JCR summer camp in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, he plays a prank which has unexpected and destructive results. Ashamed and afraid of what people will think, he keeps quiet, even though the guilt eats away at him. Tommy and his old friends Colly and Jaz team up to take part in a JCR competition at camp. They decide to search on horseback for the legendary Bushman, a Sasquatch-like creature who has been sighted near Whitehorse. But is the Bushman real or is he simply a terrifying creature of myth and legend? What Tommy and his friends discover puts all their lives in danger, and only the truth can save them.
Twelve-year-old Luke "Spin" Spinelli is sick of fake running, fake laughing and fake pointing. Sure, he once made the cover of Baby Show magazine, but now his secret modeling career is making him miserable. He dreams of using nonwhitening toothpaste. He can't wait to stop styling his hair. And he really wants to stop worrying that the school bully will discover he was once the face of Dribbleez Diapers. After all, Spin's just a normal boy looking for a hockey game and some pizza with extra cheese.
More than anything, twelve-year-old Max wants to play hockey like he used to. But since the death of his dad, his mom does more crying than mothering, and Max has to take his special-needs brother, Duncan, with him everywhere he goes. The team needs Max to win the upcoming game against the Red Eagles, but one practice with Duncan makes it evident that it's not safe to leave him unattended on the sidelines. With only a week to figure out how he can play in the big game, Max is feeling the pressure. Will he find a way to be a good teammate, a good brother and a good son, or is it too much for one kid?
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.
Brielle and Tawni have played cello side by side in orchestras since they were nine years old. Brielle has always played second chair to Tawni's first, and she's been happy with that arrangement. When Tawni is injured, Brielle suddenly finds herself principal cellist. Not only does that mean she'll be thrust into the spotlight, but it also means she is now leader of the cello section. Brielle is terrified. Is she good enough? Will the other musicians accept her? What if she screws up? Despite her fears, Brielle rises to the occasion. Her cello skills, and her leadership skills, improve as she grows into her new role. But just as Brielle is beginning to feel confident, Tawni returns. And she wants her job back. If Brielle steps down now, she'll lose her place in the spotlight. If she doesn't, her friendship could be in jeopardy.
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.
Thirteen-year-old Nate needs a break from looking after his newly disabled mom. One day when his mom thinks he's at a cross-country meet, he goes to the mall with a friend he's forbidden to have contact with. At the skate shop he sees a new board he can't afford but has to have, and Nate gets talked into running a scam. It turns out Nate looks a lot like a teen TV star filming in the area. So he and his buddy get girls to pay cash to be extras on set. It's all fine until Nate meets a girl he really likes. Nate knows he has to tell her the truth, but he's not sure he has what it takes to come clean.
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.
Elle has come to Nashville to become a star. She has what it takes, but her agent and all the label executives want to change everything about her - her hair, her body, her clothes and, most important, her music. So Elle becomes a blond, sings about cookin' for her man and wears tiny shorts and revealing tank tops. Then a chance meeting with an established female songwriter makes Elle realize that she's paying too high a price for success. Billboard Express continues the story that began in Rock the Boat by Sigmund Brouwer.
Fourteen-year-old Taz knows one thing for sure: she's a perfect disaster in the kitchen. Every time she tries to cook, chaos ensues. After fires, toxins and more than one minor injury, Taz will be happy if she makes it through her food-science class in one piece. But when the class enters a competitive race for a coveted program and Taz is put in a group that expects to win, the pressure is on. As the competition heats up, Taz is desperate to hold her own and not let her team down.
Until a few hundred years ago, people were embarrassed to buy bread in a store. Families took pride in making almost everything they owned. These days, many people take pride in buying as much as possible! New clothes, a speedier bicycle, the latest phone. If we've got money, someone can sell us a product that will supposedly make our lives better. But each year, humanity uses resources equivalent to nearly one and a half Earths, and we're still not meeting everyone's needs. Around the world, people are questioning consumerism, leaning toward more sustainable lifestyles and creating a whole new concept of wealth. What if you could meet all your needs while getting to know your neighbors and protecting the environment at the same time? Find out how growing a tiny cabbage can fight poverty, how a few dollars can help ten families start their own businesses and how running errands for a neighbor can help you learn to become a bike mechanic for free!
Luc Waldon always figured he knew what his passion was: football. He lives it, he breathes it and he thinks he has what it takes to go all the way to the NFL. So when his football coach orders him to sign up for contemporary-dance classes to improve his game, Luc's less than thrilled. When he realizes that dance might actually be his true passion, he faces a tough decision. Is he willing to leave behind the field and a real shot at professional sports, and disappoint his parents, his coach and his teammates, in order to pursue a new dream?
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.