Simon Dewclaw is definitely not your typical bouncy third grader. Quiet and aloof, he is a something of an outcast. The other kids are afraid of him, because of his dark coloring and his tough demeanor. Underneath that though, is a kid who got dealt a rough hand in life who just wants to be loved and understood. He likes to pick broken toys out of the trash, clean them up, put them back together, and leave them for out for the poorer kids in the neighborhood. His dad is one of the local garbage collectors, which means he gets horribly teased. He also has a big sister, Faye. And a new baby brother named Eric. Six months after Eric was born, Simon’s mom walked out on them without a word. And things have been difficult at home ever since, although he doesn’t like to talk about it very much. In spite of his gloominess, he is drawn to Iris, and Iris is drawn to him. At first they just enjoy picking on each other, but as time goes by, he starts to open up to her a little bit more, and they become friends.