BOY BUBBLES – CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER OVERVIEW
By Kim Tamalonis
PART ONE – BUBBLE TROUBLE
CHAPTER 1 – SPRING AWAKENING
Sam, the story narrator, and his friends, notice bubbles spraying from open body orifices of rowdy boys. In this chapter, it is revealed that Sam’s friend Charlie has very strict African American parents who try to control their son’s every move.
CHAPTER 2 – THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE BUBBLY
When kids return to school after Winter Break, all Sam’s male friends have the bubbles, the visual result of hormones and energy mixing. At lunch, Sam spots his next-door-neighbor and friend Willa sitting with her new boyfriend, Carter. Carter, known as the class bully, makes fake ID’s for his brother’s business.
CHAPTER 3 – WILD GRANDPA
Sam spends the summer after seventh grade at his grandparents’ cabin in the Adirondacks. Grandpa keeps a trailer in the driveway, which is equipped as a portable mini oil refining science lab. Grandpa specializes in researching bio-friendly fuels. Over the course of the summer, 13-year-old Sam learns to drive Grandpa’s old GM truck.
CHAPTER 4 – PITCH PERFECT
In the first eighth grade assembly of the year, Sam’s friend Oliver throws an overgrown tape ball. It veers and hits the old, frumpy, and pale school nurse. Nurse Binny stumbles backward, trips and hits her head.
CHAPTER 5 – PENITENCE
When the boys arrive at the hospital, they find that Nurse Binny is isolated in the Intensive Care Unit. At the reception desk, the kids meet a handsome well-dressed black man, who turns out to be the Nurse’s son, Stone Binny.
Oliver is sent to take care of his great aunt for the duration of his suspension. His aunt makes Oliver read romance novels by the author Cornelius York that are set on a secret beach.
CHAPTER 6 – EXCLUSIVE MEMBERSHIP
While Carter, Willa’s boyfriend, is the class male bully, Lucy Finnegan is his female counterpart. Lucy despises Willa for winning Carter’s affection. Lucy’s father, a famous NBA coach, has just accepted a highly publicized position with the Jackson Hole Mustangs, the best team in the Western Conference, so everyone is expecting Lucy to move away. One evening, Sam receives a FriendPen message from Lucy requesting that he join her table at art the next day. Lucy’s art table turns out to be a ploy to alienate Willa. When Sam realizes what’s happening, he won’t be a part of it.
CHAPTER 7 – HOUSE PARTY
While Lucy’s father has relocated to Wyoming for his new job, Lucy’s mother goes on frequent spa retreats. In the absence of adult supervision, Lucy and he sister, a high school senior, throw wild parties. One night, Willa, Sam, Zach, Oliver, Charlie and their friend Lug all find themselves stuck at a Finnegan party, where they feel overwhelmed and out-of-control.
CHAPTER 8 – DOOM AND DESTRUCTION
Oliver gets sick after drinking. The kids jump on Coach Finnegan’s bed and break it. They steal Bobby Gumps keys and devise a plan to get home.
CHAPTER 9 – DISASSOCIATING
The kids steal Carter’s older brother’s car keys and Sam drives everyone back to town. Oliver is vomiting from beer intake (he is the only one among them who drank alcohol at the party). Sam parks the car in front of Carter’s house and drops the keys in the mailbox. On the walk home, Charlie unleashes anger at his friends’ irresponsible behavior. He explains that if they had been stopped by the police, the repercussions for him, as a black boy in a stolen car, could have be much worse than for the rest of them.
CHAPTER 10 – CONFIDENTIAL NEWS
The next morning, Lucy posts pictures taken of her sitting on Carter’s lap at the party. Willa sends Carter a break-up text. Later, Sam overhears his mother, a lawyer representing the sale of the local amusement park, tell his father that an offer has been made to turn Funworld into efficiency high-rise condominiums. Sam also hears that there will be an auction.
CHAPTER 11 – BREAKING AND ENTERING
Mr. Swanson, the old man who owns Funworld, catches Sam and his crew scaling the Funworld gate and threatens to call the cops. He offers a compromise and tells them they can listen to a long-winded old man give a park tour, as an alternative to jail time. During the tour, Mr. Swanson explains that a major reason that Funworld has become unmanageable is because of the cost of fuel to run the rides.
CHAPTER 12 – A NAMIBIAN DIAMOND
Mr. Swanson explains that when he first met his wife, they were in seventh grade. She had moved from Namibia. When they later married, he promised her a Namibian diamond, but the two had never had the time or money to travel to Sfrica. It was their retirement dream.
CHAPTER 13 – HUNTED BY THE MOB
When Mr. Swanson was a young apprentice, Funworld owner, Cornelius York, found himself in deep trouble from gambling debt. The Swanson family paid off the debt and bought Funworld, as Mr. York fled town.
CHAPTER 14 – THE GREAT REQUEST
At the end of the Funworld tour, Sam stays to talk to Mr. Swanson. He asks if he and his friends could buy the park’s fleet of Segway scooters before the auction. Mr. Swanson inexplicably agrees under the condition that Sam and his friends make all the money on their own. Readers later discover that Mr. Swanson has a terminal disease.
CHAPTER 15 – BEESWAX, BBANG AND THE BUDDY SYSTEM
At school on Monday, all the kids in school are talking about an online article that reveals the separation of Lucy Finnegan’s parents. Sam and his friends start planning how to make money to buy the scooters.
Willa starts a community service club. She wants middle school kids to have access to the Buddy System phone number. The Buddy System is a service in the high school that links kids who are in dangerous situations with other kids who can offer safe rides.
CHAPTER 16 – HOLIDAY CHEER
Mr. Blue, the school band teacher, prepares the kids for a holiday concert. The concert isn’t a success. There is talk that Mr. Blue has lost his mojo.
The kids extend Segway working hours, over the holiday and earn over $1000.
CHAPTER 17 – BRAINSTORMING
Back at school, Charlie explains that they need a new plan for raising the rest of the Segway money. Miss Posey encourages them to form a band and enter a statewide garage band contest that offers large cash prizes. The kids reject Miss Posey’s rock band idea, on the grounds that they’re not good musicians. Miss Posey lets them know that they have a friend, who stays secret about his musical talent. The kids accept Miss Posey’s request to shovel her driveway on Friday afternoon.
CHAPTER 18 – WOODSTOCK SHOCK
At the teen center, next to Miss Posey’s house, they wait with shovels in hand for work instructions. While waiting, they hear guitar music riffing from within the building. Flabbergasted, they discover their friend Lug, wailing on an electric guitar on the stage. Miss Posey finds the group, as does Mr. Binny, Nurse Binny’s well-heeled son.
Mr. Binny tells Miss Posey about his mother’s past. He explains that in the summer of 1969, when his mother was just out of college, she and her best friend went to live at her parents’ weekend retreat, a Bethel, NY sunflower farm. That summer, rockers who were preparing for Woodstock and who heard about two cute girls with lots of empty rooms came knocking. The farmhouse ended up filled with bands, and afterward, Nurse Binny and her best friend Charlotte Jones went on tour with the Stargazers.
Stone Binny and his best friend Rutabaga Jones were born on the road. Now, as co-owners of a record company, Root and Stone were following Lug’s progress.
Readers also discover that Lug’s mother is deaf.
CHAPTER 19 – TURNING POINT
The kids convince Lug to start a band with them, so they can enter the Rock Band Rumble, win $3000 and buy the Segways from Mr. Swanson. Lug agrees to try things out with a garage band. He reveals that he lives alone with his mother and that his father left on the day he was born.
PART TWO – GOALS
CHAPTER 20 – COMMUNITY SERVICE
At Willa’s first community service club meeting, Sam is shocked to find that his mother and Mr. Swanson are the honored guests. Willa explains that the goal of the upcoming event, called “Pick and Plant Day,” will be to raise the funds to buy one ride from the Funworld final auction, which will be donated to the town for a small community park. Participants will get financial sponsors to support hours of picking up litter and planting flowers. A company that hears about the event, offers to donate seeds for the event.
CHAPTER 21 – MUNCHIES SYNDROME
When Zach doesn’t show up for school for a few days, Sam stops at his house and finds out that Zach has actually stayed home so he can finish writing lyrics for a song for their new rock band.
CHAPTER 22 – SOS SESSIONS
The crew asks Mr. Blue for help. Mr. Blue agrees in exchange for Lug’s reluctant participation in the school band. Mr. Swanson lets the kids use “the Lion’s Den, for practice.
Oliver breaks the news to the others that he has to drop out of the band because he’s failing his classes. The group makes a schedule to tutor Oliver every day, so that his grades improve.
CHAPTER 23 – PRIMAL INSTINCT
Impatient with waiting for Lug to devise the score for the Bubblers’ original song, the kids decide the sound should develop organically as they jam. Mr. Swanson puts a stop to their sloppy practice. Lug finally completes a well-developed score. After submitting their Rock Band Rumble application the kids walk to the Rainbow Cakes Bakery to celebrate. Willa can’t go. On their journey, the boys encounter Carter and his band of bullies. They’re poking at Najim, the doctor’s son who seems to have special needs. A fistfight between Sam and Carter ensues.
Afterward, Sam and his friends finally make their way to Rainbow Cakes. When they arrive, the owner of the pizza parlor is complaining to the owner of the bakery about delinquent boys who just stole pizza pies. Sam gives the pizza man Carter’s identity.
CHAPTER 24 – MEDIATION MALARKEY: ROUND ONE
Sam is summonsed to Principal Marcus’ office the next morning, where his parents, Carter and Carter’s parents are waiting. Carter has presented the story of being attacked by Sam in a way that casts Sam as the bully. Carter’s mother controls the direction of the conversation, so that all blame lays on Sam’s shoulders. Sam feels manipulated and incapable of defending himself.
CHAPTER 25 – MEDIATION MALARKEY: ROUND TWO
The principal calls Najim and Dr. El-Shazly into the office. Unexpectedly, the very angry pizza man shows up at school, too. Suddenly, the story shifts and Sam seems vindicated, while blame is duly placed on Carter’s shoulders.
CHAPTER 26 – ELECTROCUTED
Willa won’t talk to Sam. She has only heard Carter’s side of the story. Sam worries about attending the weekly community service club meeting, but he does and then he gathers the courage to stay after the meeting. After making up, Sam and Willa confess they both think Zack Is gay. For the first time, there’s a moment of electrified romantic tension between Sam and Willa that changes the nature of their friendship.
CHAPTER 27 – DREAMING OF THE FUTURE
Zach breaks the news that he received the official confirmation that the Bubblers made it into the Rock Band Rumble!
CHAPTER 28 – MID-TERM REPORTS
Zach’s sister Livvy asks to writes an article about the band for the school paper. Oliver receives his mid-term report card. His grades improved except for history. Livvy offers to help him re-write a term paper.
CHAPTER 29 – MUSTANGS VS EMPIRES
For the first time since Coach Finnegan switched from the New York Empires basketball team to coaching the Jackson Hole Mustangs, the two teams go head-to-head, thereby pitting citizens of Shoreline against each other. The Mustangs win the game.
Sam tries to find a way to covertly let Zach know he thinks homosexuality is okay. Zach seems relieved, but doesn’t acknowledge the comment.
CHAPTER 30 – SEEDS OF CHANGE
Lucy is enraged when kids at school are more interested in the front page article about the Bubblers than they are about her father’s big win. She leaves a nasty note on Willa’s locker, but Willa has bigger problems than a school bully.
Willa finds out from Miss Posey that the company that had offered to supply seeds for Pick and Plant Day has backed out of the deal. The nurse hears Sam and Willa discussing the seed problem. She offers the sunflower seeds from the family farm in Bethel, NY to save Pick and Plant Day, if the kids are willing to go to the farm to pick up the seed bins.
CHAPTER 31 – ROAD TRIP
The kids, and others take a road trip to Bethel, NY to retrieve sunflower seeds, where they discovered old Wostock rockers squatting at the nurse’s farmhouse. While there, the kids have a wild time with The Stargazers. Stone’s father, the Stargazers’ bass player, Malcolm Binny, is not present. Mr. Binny is living on a secret beach in Central America.
CHAPTER 32 – RELEASING THE SPIRITS WITHIN
The Stargazers coach the Bubblers. Lug’s talent astounds the older musicians. That night, everyone dances and sings around a bonfire, but the next morning, Mr. Swanson sleeps all the way back to Shoreline. The kids discuss how to repay the Swansons for their kindness. They discuss efforts to find Cornelius York, former Funworld owner and Mr. Swanson’s mentor. The kids have found a tiny reference to a Cornelius York in an online article about a motley crew living on a secret beach in Central America. Something about the text inspires Stone Binny to call his father for help.
CHAPTER 33 – PICK AND PLANT DAY
The kids confront a new major obstacle with Pick and Plant Day. The NBA semi-final line-up is announced and the Jackson Hole Mustangs are scheduled to play against the New York Empires in New York on the same date as Pick and Plant Day, though the times are different. Livvy writes an article for the town paper pleading with Shoreline residents to pull-through and support the community service club event. Citizens come out in droves. The day is a huge success. Even Carter surprises everyone and shows up to help Willa with Pick and Plant Day, before turning around and going into the city with Lucy Finnegan as her date to the big game. After the game, Lucy gives Carter a birthday present: limited edition sneakers signed by all of the Mustangs. News crews catch the moment and air it on live tv, a moment which everyone in Shoreline, including Willa, watches from home.
CHAPTER 34 – FALL FROM GRACE
Willa avoids communication at practice the next day. In school on Monday, all the kids in art check their buzzing phones and then stare at Willa. Sam does too and then yells at Willa not to check her phone. He’s afraid she’ll destroy QuickPik criminal evidence. Miss Posey confiscates Willa’s phone. After class, Sam tells Willa that Lucy has blasted a revealing shot of Willa to the whole school. Willa leaves in tears. Miss Posey brings the phone to the principal who calls the police. Judge Thompson comes to talk to the whole grade about the dangers of irresponsible use of media.
CHAPTER 35 – CODE BLUE
All week, Willa stays home from school and from Bubblers practice sessions. She won’t respond to communication of any sort. Sam does to give Willa a pep-talk. Sam describes to Willa the photo that popped up on everyone’s phone. From the description, Willa knows it was a fake Photoshop doctored image. Sam asks if Will had recording the phone chat with Carter, as evidence. She had.
CHAPTER 36 – VINDICATED
On Friday evening, Willa is still absent when the band concert starts. Sam sees all the kids around him check their phones and gasp. He wonders what new scandal is happening.
Willa quietly slips onstage, once everyone is playing. She disappears during intermission. Sam takes the opportunity to check his phone. Willa has blasted her entire recorded unedited video chat with Carter to everyone in the grade. While it includes the part that minorly embarrasses her, it’s clear the image that Lucy blasted wasn’t Willa. Willa’s blast includes her telling Carter how uncomfortable she is with his request and his efforts to coerce her, making him look bad.
When the Bubblers are called forward for their solo performance during the second half of the concert, Willa reluctantly steps forward. Her classmates cheer in support. A power outage cuts the performance short, but not before Mr. Blue urges the audience to go into New York City the next day to attend the Rock Band Rumble.
PART THREE – FOREVER KINDS OF FRIENDS
CHAPTER 37 – WHIPPER SNAPPERS
Sam and Zach arrive to the Edith Street Music Hall at the same time. As they follow another band inside, they both notice rainbow medallions on the sneakers of one of the boys’ from the competing band. Sam and Zach take different interest in the rainbow medallion. The boy introduces himself as Mark, from Social Riffraff. Sam gets mad a Zach for befriending the competition.
The Bubblers make it through a preliminary challenge. Social Riffraff turns out to be the best band. In the waiting room, Zach and Marc continue to talk. Lug suspects something about Mark that he does not disclose to the others.
CHAPTER 38 – RUMBLE READY
During the first and second round, Social Riffraff comes in first. Lug tells the others he needs to trade some of the Bubblers’ points to do something crucial. They’ve been warned that bands that trade points never win, so everyone gets mad at Lug. Lug trades points for web surfing time. He directs the group to keep it a secret from Zach. The Bubblers win round three, but their score is lowered because of Lug’s move.
CHAPTER 39 – SHAKE-UP
While the contestants and audience think they have a grasp on winners and losers, MC Lil C makes an announcement that shake up the proceedings. Ultimately, it is revealed that Mark was a professional child musician, which disqualified Social Riffraff. The Bubblers win the competition.
CHAPTER 40 – LITTLE MARKY Z AND CONTRACT ABC’S
Lug explains that when he was small, he watched Little Marky Z’s musical ABC videos. Jealousy took hold of Lug over the happy life that he saw Little Marky Z lead in the series. As a small child, Lug thought that if he was better on the guitar than the boy in the video, maybe he could have a video series, too. The experience triggered Lug’s early need to succeed.
Lug tells them that when he traded points for web surfing time, he also read local news. Lucy’s father had won a custody battle and his kids were getting sent to Wyoming. There was also an article about Najim el Shazly, who was “special” in a way that no one had expected. He had scored the highest recorded score of all time on an IQ test. The article reported that Najim was looking into ways to turn sunflower seeds into fuel.
Root and Stone Records offers the kids a recording contract and plan a Bubblers summer tour.
CHAPTER 41 – PARTY COUNTDOWN
Mr. Swanson stays away from the preparations for the final Funworld closing party. On the day of the event, the kids pitch in to help and they come dressed as clowns. Mark comes with Zach. Zach finally comes out to Sam. Sam vows to support his friend. When the Stargazers arrive, Quinton Bartok is problematically swigging alcohol from a water bottle.
Later, from Sam’s post at his pretzel stand, he sees Mrs. Swanson push a sleeping Mr. Swanson in a wheelchair to the front of the area that will fill up with the audience. Sam abandons his job to go talk to his mentor who he can tell isn’t well.
CHAPTER 42 – PASSING THE TORCH
Once the program starts, the Swansons dramatically present the Segways to the kids on stage and they make a major announcement to the citizens of Shoreline about changes in the Funworld sale. They tell everyone that two new buyers will restore the amusement park rather than destroy it. The new buyers, Nurse Binny and Rainbow Cakes owner Charlotte Jones plan to employ a team of unemployed Grammy winning rockers to revitalize the amusement park. The Swansons make one more shocking announcement. They gift two percent shares of Funworld to each of the Bubblers, with the expectation that they use their power to initiate community outreach programs.
Then, the kids make their own surprise announcement. They call up a totally unexpected guest: 112 year-old Cornelius York who happens to be Malcolm Binny’s neighbor on the secret beach in Costa Rica. Malcolm Binny rolls Cornelius York up onto the stage. It’s a joyous reunion for all.
Quinton Bartok stumbles out and demands that the concert get started. However, once underway, he collapses on stage. The Stargazers call young prodigy, Lug forth. The little man saves the day. Next, the Bubblers get up and sing a tribute to the Swansons, after which, the Swansons excuse themselves from the audience. Mr. York and Great Aunt Merriweather follow the Swanson’s lead. Before the song is over, the kids notice flashing emergency vehicle lights in the distance and wonder if they’re for Quinton Bartok.
CHAPTER 43 – SWAN SONG
The ambulance has come for Mr. Swanson. Sam visits Mr. Swanson, just before he dies. Paparazzi photographers attend the funeral. Afterward, Livvy asks her friends to reconvene inside the church. She presents them with an early edition of the next month’s Rock Report, the oldest and most highly respected national rock and roll magazine. She shocks her friends when she shows them the magazine features the Bubblers on the cover. Inside, the issue is dedicated to stories Livvy wrote about the band and to an extensive final interview with Mr. Swanson.
CHAPTER 44 – FIREWORKS
While Henny Binny and Charlotte Jones aren’t ready to open the doors of Funworld right away, they open for the Fourth of July. They fuel the rides with sunflower oil, discovered by Najim el Shazly as a possibility and refined by Grandpa. Up on the Ferris Wheel, it turns into an unforgettable evening for Willa and Sam, as they kiss for the first time, just as fireworks explode over Long Island Sound.