In spite of his handicap, a fourteen-year-old boy accomplishes his goals in life and discovers a well-kept family secret.
SCOTT SCHROEDER dreams of a day when he and his father, CHARLES, can have a home of their own. Following an accident that took his mother's life eight years before, they discovered Scott was deaf. His father, now a single parent, has a job that often takes him out of the country, leaving Scott to stay with one relative after another.
They have to move to Kansas and in with his grandmother whom he phonetically calls 'THE ARK' (he read his dad's lips when he said she was the matriarch — May-tree-ark — of the family) after his mother's sister got married and moved to Alaska.
On the day they arrived, the first thing he noticed was an abandoned German shepherd at the house across the street. A lover of all things nature, Scott determinedly cares for the dog he finds out is named RUNT whose owner was a trucker who passed away and his wife sold the house and left the dog behind.
During an adventure with Runt, Scott becomes friends with a red-headed girl named RUSTIE when they unknowingly thwart the robbery of her family's gas station. Later, Runt hops in the cab of a rig and Scott is almost hit by it attempting to rescue his dog. Rustie's mom gives Scott a dog whistle to call in Runt when out of sight, which he keeps around his neck at all times.
Frustrated, his grandmother sends him and Runt to his UNCLE TODD where he learns about gliders and successfully lands one when his uncle has a heart attack.
Blessed with being an accomplished gymnast, and even though he signs and reads lips, Scott's biggest challenge is convincing others he is just as able in doing all things as those in the hearing world. Todd's friends, JO-GO and TAMMIE, sign him up for a gymnastics team, which gives him hope and something to look forward to.
During several conversations he observes along the way, Scott figures out the big family secret concerning his father and uncle and determinedly plays a part in their reconciliation. The night this all comes to a head, a fire breaks out in the aircraft hanger. He, Todd, Charles, Jo-Go, Tammie, and Runt all pitch in to douse the flames. In the process, Todd has a fatal heart attack and Runt runs off into the woods, licking his wounds in fear.
By morning, everything has changed. The fire, caused by a faulty electric heater, has taken the life of his uncle and destroyed all three planes. Afraid for his best friend, Scott blows the whistle over and over, and finally he and his dad hear a whimper. Runt is found at the top of a rise watching trucks in the distance. They rush him to a vet. Runt is going to be okay!
Scott's dad announces he is home for good; that they are moving back to Texas.