The Thomsons - parents Thomas and Francie, and children Willa, Arthur, Beatrice (nicknamed Booky) and Jakey - are a loving working class family living in the Depression era in Toronto. Arthur is showing aptitude in drawing, and although his parents want to support his skill, Thomas in particular wants him to take up a vocation that is a little more stable. Willa, the part time librarian, is attracted to Russell, the medical student she meets at the library. And 11-year old Booky is happy that she has been asked to tutor the new older sixth grade student, Georgie Dunlop, in spelling, since she has a crush on him, her first ever. She just can't wait for him to ask her to the school dance. But she begins to have mixed feelings about Georgie based on a gift he gives to her. Digging a little deeper, Booky begins to understand both the good and bad of Georgie.