Ava works hard at maintaining a certain image online and at school. As far as anyone else knows, life is great. But when she inherits an African gray parrot from her great-uncle Bernie (whom she barely remembers), Ava’s carefully crafted world starts to crumble. The parrot, Mervin, is loud and messy and obnoxious. Ava’s brother thinks it’s hilarious to post videos of Ava trying to deal with the crazy bird. He even creates a profile for the two of them. Everyone wants to see more of Ava and Mervin. Suddenly, Ava is internet famous—in the worst possible way. Her friends think the parrot is gross and start acting weird. But then a new girl at school helps Ava see that this parrot might not be the worst gift in the world and that just being yourself is the best way to be.
Mark is a city kid who has come to a small town to live with his grandmother after his mom goes into rehab. He has to take a school bus home for the first time. The long, noisy ride home is nothing like riding city transit. There’s some kind of secret code of knowing where you’re allowed to sit, the kids scream non-stop, and there’s pudding and cheese flying through the air. Someone even tries to set Mark’s seat on fire. Mark quickly decides that all these kids are nuts and does his best to avoid interacting with any of them. But when the bus is involved in a serious accident, Mark has to work with a couple of other students to get everybody to safety. He soon learns that he has more in common with these rural kids than he would ever have imagined. In turns funny and heartbreaking,
Fourteen-year-old Dylan is sent to live with his estranged grandfather, Angus. Basically strangers, the two avoid each other as best they can. One day Dylan discovers a young orca stranded high up on the rocky beach. Dylan runs to tell his grandfather. There’s nothing that can be done, says Angus. The sun is coming up, and soon the orca will die of exposure. But Dylan knows he has to try to save the whale. He collects towels to cover the delicate skin of the orca and begins transporting buckets of water from the ocean below to keep it hydrated. It’s grueling work, and it will be hours before the tide comes back in and the water is high enough for the orca to swim free. Angus is moved by his grandson’s determination and helps as best he can. They both desperately hope that soon the orca will be able to join its family, who have been calling out to it just offshore.
Sam Campbell's school team, the Laggan Lairds, always loses. When someone suggests that their name be the Laggan Lard Butts, Sam thinks the team should change its name. What is a Laird anyway? The basketball coach agrees, and soon the whole school is involved in an election for a new team name. Sam and his friends nominate the name Lard Butts. When the basketball team starts winning games after a warm-up cheer of "Go Lard Butts!" it seems the Lard Butt campaign might actually win the election.