Josh knows he's riding recklessly when he knocks down the old man he suspects is the hermit of Lumberman Creek. But he is shocked when the hermit walks into the forest with his bike after the accident. Being without his beloved bike for a week motivates Josh to hike into the woods and confront the crazy old man. The hermit, Jonathan, has fixed Josh's bike, and Josh learns that he has more in common with the old man than he ever imagined. When Jonathan needs help, Josh has to respect the old man's choices in order to save his life.
Rufus and his sister Alexa hate each other at the best of times. When Rufus's friend Phil manages to hypnotize Alexa, Rufus is ready to enjoy the power. They begin by ordering Alexa to be kind to her parents and Phil. The plan backfires when Alexa sweetly suggests canceling an expensive family vacation in favor of a week at home playing board games. Then Alexa turns on the charm with Phil and suddenly Rufus has to deal with a lovesick amateur hypnotist. Rufus is certain it can't get any stranger until Alexa, still in her hypnotic state, is kind to the brother she's always hated and Rufus is more confused than he's ever been.
The first flash mob Ian puts together himself is a sixty-plus person, four-minute pillow fight in a department store. His friend Oswald is thrilled with the event, but Julia, the one Ian really wants to impress, is still convinced that flash mobs are stupid. While Ian tries to prove Julia wrong by initiating flash mobs with political impact, Julia is busy waging war with the strict new principal at school. When Julia goes too far and gets herself suspended, Ian sees an opportunity for a relevant and persuasive flash mob.
Once again Callie is forced to take part in her mom's latest crusade. They head into ranch country to camp -- bloodthirsty mosquitoes, stinky outhouses and all -- at a protest to save a rural school. Callie's grandmother shows up with her biker buddies and the singing grannies. Callie hates camping and wants nothing to do with the protest. To make matters worse, Callie's only possible ally, her cousin Del, is mad at her. The last time Callie visited, she was thrown from Del's horse, Radish. Callie claimed the horse was vicious and now Del's parents are forcing her to sell Radish. Callie wants to help her cousin, but she's terrified of the horse. Del is just as tenacious as the rest of Callie's family, and Callie is forced to admit that she's not going to be allowed to go home until both the horse and the school are saved.
Turk needs cash, but he's allergic to his own sweat so getting a job is out of the question. Then he makes a discovery: Girls love dogs. Turk's friends will do anything to meet girls. Turk starts a dog walking business. His friends walk the dogs and Turk collects half the money. In an attempt to impress dog-loving Carly, Turk brags about his business in front of the school tough guy, Chuck. When Chuck learns the true nature of Turk's business and wants in on the action, Turk worries that he will lose his business and Carly's respect.
Fourteen-year-old Matt has only one goal in life: to become a hermit. He has no use for school, but he loves the solitude of the forest. When he hikes up to the cabin he built for himself, he discovers a mysterious stranger named Forrest has moved in. At first Matt doesn't connect Forrest's appearance with the rash of local robberies. Forrest seems to be the perfect hermit, and he teaches Matt the skills he needs to achieve his goal, including how to hunt with a crossbow. But when Forrest tries to kill an endangered Roosevelt elk, Matt questions the ethics of his new friend. When Matt discovers a stolen rifle in his cabin, he finds himself trapped in a dangerous situation.
The principal announces that the school is implementing uniforms, and Ian finds himself caught in a conflict. His friend Julia wants him to devise a plan to fight the decision, and the principal is determined to convince Ian the uniforms are a good idea. Ian wants nothing to do with the issue. While doing research for a social-justice class, he learns that the manufacturer of the uniforms is on the top-ten list for human-rights violations. When he tells the principal this, all he gets is a reminder that the penalty for refusing to wear the uniforms is suspension, and Ian finds himself caught in a whole new conflict -- one with himself.
It's hard enough for Eve to adjust to a new high school without the extra weight she's gained over the summer. Her best friend is ashamed to hang out with her, and she's become the focus of a schoolmate's cruelty. Determined not to be "that pathetic fat girl" at school, Eve struggles with a diet and forces herself to join a mentoring program. The diet only makes her food obsessed, and she feels she is failing as a mentor. How can a lonely fat girl gain the confidence she needs to succeed?