Daniel Pratzer is a newbie on the freshman chess team at his private school. He has made modest progress, but as a patzer (beginner), Daniel is shocked when his super-achieving co-captains ask him to participate in a special tournament. The Manhattan tournament is comprised of three father-son teams. The captains admit it’s not Daniel’s skill they’re after - it’s Daniel’s dad they want on their team. With Mr. Pratzer’s skill as a Grandmaster, they are sure they’ll win the $10,000 prize.
While standing in the cafeteria line next to Lucy, everyone’s favorite 8th grade English teacher (affectionately nicknamed Fat Bob) collapses and dies.
It’s the summer of 1963 and the summer before high school for Tree Taylor. She has set two goals for herself: to experience her first kiss and to write an article important enough to earn her a reporter’s spot on the school newspaper. When a shooting takes place at the Kinney place right next door, Tree sees it as an opportunity to hone her writing skills. But to begin, Tree has to unearth the facts of the so-called “accidental shooting.” Everyone she interviews, including her dad, the local doctor, stonewalls her efforts to get to the truth.
It’s the first day of summer vacation and it’s off to a slow start for 13-year-old Nina. Her dear grandma died last year, her parents are always working and her college-bound brother is never home. As she sits on the hammock just wasting time, she sees her neighbor wearing a leg cast and a whole lot of plants that need planting. Mrs. Chung’s marigold aren’t going to get planted unless… Right then Nina hatches a plan to do something nice for her neighbors, anonymously, every day for the entire 65 days of summer.
Every year Henry Horton Harris Hemsly wins the State Science Fair with a bizarre but brilliant scheme. This year Roberta McKinnon, along with her best pal Marilee, are determined to break ol’ Henry’s winning streak. Now all they need is an amazing project.
Henry Lambert planned a summer vacation filled with lazy days and plenty of video games. Sadly, his father doesn’t agree and makes his own plans for Henry. He thinks that two weeks at the Strongwoods Survival Camp is just what Henry needs to change him from a nerdy geek to a manly man. The only saving grace is that Henry’s best friend, Randy, has also signed on for two weeks in the bowels of wilderness hell with him.
April comes from a long line of airline employees and she has logged many hours on World Air with her flight-attendant mom. When her pilot dad dies in a plane crash, her mom marries a pilot who turns out to be an abusive jerk. As their marriage fails, April’s mom and stepdad fly her cross-country, shuttling April between divorcing parents for a year. During that time April learns plenty about the airline biz so when she runs away from home she literally lives on airplanes, using her mom’s flight benefits and relying on the generosity of flight crews she’s befriended.