On the edge of young adulthood, Lolly has the support of his hardworking, no nonsense mom and her girlfriend; his dad, who isn’t a daily presence in his life but whose love is never in doubt; staff at the community center; his best friend, Vega. He’s also keenly aware that the freedom with which he moved through Harlem when he was young has changed now that he’s 12; now that he’s eyed by various crews of older boys and young men as being either with them, or against them.
Herbert is a little pig who “was not so sure about Halloween.” Herbert’s dad loves Halloween, however. When Herbert decides he wants to be a tiger his dad measures Herbert and sews ears, tail, paws, and claws while Herbert practices his roar.
Teenage Dimple Shah loves coding and wants to be an app designer. She’s not interested in having a boyfriend, let alone thinking about getting married, something her traditional Indian parents can’t understand. Rishi Patel embraces traditional Indian values, respects his parents and their opinions, and wants to make them happy. When Dimple and Rishi’s parents decide that the two would be a good match, Rishi embraces the idea—he likes everything he’s learned about Dimple—and agrees to attend the same summer app development program for high school students that Dimple is going to.
Little Monster is ready to be in a scary story. The narrator begins with a dark and scary forest. “Oh my golly gosh!” says Little Monster, not quite ready for something quite that scary. The narrator changes the scene to a spooky house. “Oh my goodness me! … Oh yikes and crikes!” Finally Little Monster admits it would be better to do the scaring.
Clayton Byrd loves playing the blues harp (harmonica) with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and other blues musicians in the park. Clayton is eagerly looking forward to the day he’ll finally get the nod from his grandfather to take a solo during one of their performances. When his grandfather dies suddenly, Clayton’s mother is too wrapped up in her own complicated feelings to be sensitive to her son’s grief and sells Cool Papa’s belongings.
A boy describes his day in the town by the sea where he lives, an accounting made extraordinary by its lyricism and its visual accompaniment. “It goes like this…” is the repeated refrain as he details each part of his day. Morning includes butterflies in his stomach when he swings up high; lunch is a baloney sandwich and carrots; in the afternoon he notices the salt-smell of the air when he stops at the graveyard overlooking the sea.
Imogene has been home-schooled her entire life. Additionally, she’s grown up as part of the Renaissance Faire that takes place over 8 weeks every year in her Florida community. Now she’s finally getting the chance to participate in the Faire with a small role as a squire to her dad’s villainous knight. She’s also starting public school–her own choice–for the first time.
Young Wilson is full of ideas for ways to help fix his elderly neighbor Gigi’s house: paint it orange and yellow “like the sun,” fix the windows so they’ll open, build a fence so she can have a dog, repair the steps and the chimney and the roof, plant a garden. He’d even like to fix her piano, “so you can play music again.” Across summer, fall, and winter, he shares his ideas with Gigi and others, from the ice cream man to the librarian to his classroom teacher.
Vivvy loves the Riot Grrrl bands and zines of her mother’s youth, but unlike her mom at 16, Vivvy is not a wave-maker or rule-breaker in their small east Texas town, until anger at the rampant sexism at her school spurs her to action. Vivvy creates an anonymous zine, Moxie, calling it out. Some of the sexist behavior is verbal, some of it physical, some of it psychological, all of it is some form of assault.
Maria loves softball and is thrilled to discover a woman teacher at her small-town school in California is starting a team for girls. The only problem: she’s not sure her Sikh father will let her join. When he reluctantly agrees, her next goal is to convince him to let her wear shorts rather than a dress when she plays.