Twelve-year-old Aldo Zelnick receives a sketchbook from his grandma and fills it with drawings that recount his adventures with his friends, including their efforts to find a diamond ring with a thousand dollar reward.
Aldo's mother takes the family to his aunt and uncle's farm in Minnesota to get away from the televisions, computers, video games, and cellular phones that consume their lives at home, and Aldo and his brother, Timothy, work on the farm and visit with their cousins.
Ten-year-old Aldo may be an egghead and a talented artist, but his Spanish is terrible. He tries learning more in order to help his friendship with his bilingual friend, Jack. Then on Halloween night, Aldo encounters a mysterious man haunting the neighborhood and his Spanish actually comes in handy. Features a glossary of "E" words, Spanish terms, and comic-book drawings.
The Zelnick family likes Christmas a lot, but Aldo--whose plan to get presents galore may be running into a glitch--does not. He thinks that "giving being better than receiving" is gobbledygook and does not understand what the "Adopt-a-Family Tree" at the mall has to do with him.
Ten-year-old Aldo Zelnick fills his journal with illustrated entries about how dull life is in January and how a family ski trip turns into a trip to the hospital for Aldo after he agrees to downhill ski with his brother Timothy.
Aldo Zalnick and his friends dress and act as knights for the fifth grade medieval faire at Dana Elementary, and learn that sometimes it takes courage to do good deeds, fight unfairness, and tell the truth.