Dickon wasn't happy in his old home or his old school. He hopes that in his new neighborhood he will meet children who never knew his old, hyper self, who will like him for who he is now. And he hopes for a dog of his own. Dickon's mother calls him Birdie. She feeds him milk from a teddy bear mug. She worries if he's out of her sight for a moment and she knows how filthy and vicious dogs can be. Dickon is delighted to discover that the Humane Society is right on the other side of the fence behind the new house, but only by disobeying his mother will he ever get close to a real dog.
Ever since he was small, Franklin has been soothed by fire. Staring into the flames helps Franklin forget his problems. And right now, he's got a lot to forget. Franklin's mother has left the family home to be with her hairdresser boyfriend. Franklin's father, the mayor of Montreal West, is too busy worrying about his public image to do anything about the family. As a rash of local fires competes with upcoming elections for media attention, Franklin's father has to work hard to keep the public happy. And Franklin has to reconsider his romance with fire.
Dan Hogg is thrilled when his uncle offers him some work at a food fair, because he wants money to hire a professional trainer to help him with his scrawny physique. His excitement vanishes when he learns that the job is dressing up in a hotdog costume and handing out samples. Every dark cloud has its lining, Dan discovers, when he, or rather Frank Lee Better, his mascot persona, gains the attention of a pretty girl named Brooke. The attention is great until Dan finds himself under attack from Cupcake Katie and a mysterious guy with a strange interest in Brooke. It's not until he's huddling in a bathroom in his tight white underwear that Dan begins to suspect Brooke's attention might be too good to be true.
Life is full of challenges for thirteen-year-old Liza. She is already having trouble coping with the death of a local homeless man when she learns that her family's apple tree will need to be chopped down. If that wasn't enough, the new principal at school keeps blocking her attempts for a positive outlet by refusing permission for every project that GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and BRRR! (Boys for Renewable Resources, Really!) proposes. Liza starts to feel like she needs to create change in her world without seeking permission. When she chooses the school grounds as the site for her latest endeavor, she may have gone too far.
In most ways, Poe is like the other kids in his school. He thinks about girls and tries to avoid too much contact with teachers. He has a loving father who helps him with his homework. But Poe has a secret, and almost every day some small act threatens to expose him. He doesn't have a phone number to give to friends. He doesn't have an address. Poe and his father are living in a tent on city land. When the city clears the land to build housing, Poe worries that they might not be able to find another site near his school. Will Poe have to expose his secret to get help for himself and his father?
As much as life has irrevocably changed since the death of his father, much has stayed the same for Cam. He's always had a great deal of responsibility around the house, but the burden is heavier now in combination with the load of grief he's been carrying. After the man who was driving the truck that killed his father turns up at the end of the driveway, Cam feels pressure to keep his family safe as well. He starts to see the man everywhere: at his work, in stores, at his sister's school. Cam needs to know what the man wants from his family, and he starts following his father's killer in search of answers.
Edward is a classic slacker. He's got better ways to spend his time than toiling over homework, and as long as he gets passing grades he's happy. When his fifty percent average is threatened he has to find a way to pull up his grades without applying himself. Edward discovers that special education students get more time to complete tests, and he thinks he's found the perfect scam. Little does he know that manipulating everyone around him will take more work than he ever imagined.
Liza, determined to prove that her mother's boyfriend is no good, starts researching the oil company he works for. Liza discovers a lawsuit against the company for compensation that is long overdue to Guatemalan farmers. She starts a group at school called GRRR! (Girls for Renewable Resources, Really!) and launches an attack on Argenta Oil. As her activism activities increase, her objections to her mother's boyfriend become political. She is learning to separate the personal from the political, but when her mother discovers her plans for a demonstration outside the Argenta Oil head office, the two collide in ways Liza least suspected.
Dorf is all about skateboarding and so far that's worked out fine. But now that he's in a new city, the terrain has changed. He's no longer free to skateboard where he wishes, school is more difficult, and his passion for skateboarding garners him the nickname and reputation of a freak. With daring stunts he gains the grudging respect of local troublemakers, but he needs to tap into another kind of courage to effect real change.
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.
Fifteen-year-old Tim loves his job at his dad's pet store, partly because he gets to spend time with his best friend, a black cockatoo named Elmo. But things at work have been tense since the store moved to a larger, more expensive location. To make extra money his father rents out the store's exotic birds for parties and Tim is furious at this exploitation of his friend. When Elmo is stolen from one of the parties, the police are unconcerned about the theft. Tim and his new human friend, Sapna, set out to find Elmo and discover that Elmo is more valuable than they'd ever imagined.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wilf is convinced his parents want nothing to do with him. When he isn't in school, he is left to his own devices or shipped away to camp. But at fifteen, Wilf is adamant that he is too old for summer camp. When his parents ignore his protests and ship him off anyway, he knows how he will get their attention: He will escape from camp by canoe and spend the rest of his vacation alone in the woods, proving to his parents he deserves his independence. His plan begins to unravel when his cabin mate forces Wilf to take him along. Things go from bad to worse when a younger camper follows them and they all end up in a fight for their lives against the unforgiving river.
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?
Trevor, Robyn and Nick decide they have a mystery to solve when Trevor discovers a suspicious looking young man snooping around. They learn about missing research involving the use of carob beans to aid in cancer treatment-potentially valuable information. With a shady looking grad student, a bitter activist and an employee of a medical research firm to deal with, our amateur sleuths are faced with their greatest challenge yet.
The students of the 121 Express are infamous for bad behavior and Lucas knows his role on the bus will determine his social standing at his new school. Lucas is tired of being one of the nerds. When he attracts the negative attention of the cool troublemakers, he saves himself by teasing another kid. His ploy works and soon Lucas is right in the center of the mayhem on the bus. He loves his new found popularity, but when the fun and games push the bus driver to a nervous collapse and hospitalizes an elderly lady, Lucas begins to question his choices.
While Devin and Nadia spend summer vacation at a university camp for little kids Nadia as a counselor and Devin as an unwilling participant—their mother's research project is vandalized and her motives are questioned. Devin, Nadia and Simon stumble upon shady characters, corporate conspiracy and a plot to take over the nation's food supply with genetically modified fertilizer.
Fourteen-year-old Maya sneaks out in her kayak before breakfast every day to check on a family of sea otters living in nearby Riley Bay. It's hard being an animal lover in a fishing family. The animals Maya loves threaten her family's livelihood, and Maya doesn't know if she can trust her family not to hurt them. She is determined to protect the sea otters, even if it means checking on them for the rest of her life. One morning, Maya discovers she's being watched. Who is it and what are they doing? Soon Maya has to trust someone as she gets caught in a dangerous race to save the sea otters--and her family's livelihood--from poachers.