Mibs Beaumont and her family live on the border of Kansas and Nebraska. Each family member gets a special power—called a savvy—on their thirteenth birthday, and Mibs's big day is fast approaching. Unfortunately, though, Poppa Beaumont gets into a terrible car accident two days before her birthday and slips into a coma, so Momma and the oldest brother, Rocket, head off to the hospital ninety miles away to look after him.
On the morning of getting her savvy, Mibs is pretty sure she's figured out that she has the power to wake things up, so at her party later on she decides to stow away on a bus going toward the hospital to help Poppa Beaumont come out of his coma. Unluckily for her, though, her older brother Fish (who can control the weather), her quiet younger brother Samson, the older scary girl Bobbi, and the curious boy Will Junior tag along.
Unluckily for Mibs again, the bus ends up going the wrong way from the hospital in Salina, Kansas. And then bad luck strikes a third time when Mibs realizes halfway through the trip that her savvy isn't waking things up—it's hearing people's thoughts when there is ink on their skin, like tattoos.
Despite traveling halfway across Nebraska, picking up a couple more misfits, and accidentally revealing the Beaumont secret to Will and Bobbi (who like them for it anyway), Mibs and the gang eventually make it to the hospital. Even though Mibs isn't able to wake things up, she finds that she does have the ability to talk to her father, and he comes out of the coma.
- We meet Mibs (short for Mississippi) Beaumont and her family who develop special powers—a.k.a. savvies—on their thirteenth birthdays.
- The Beaumonts lived by the ocean until Mibs's older brother Fish found out his savvy involves water and the weather… and started a hurricane… at which point they packed up and moved to the edge of Nebraska and Kansas.
- The oldest Beaumont sibling, Rocket, can control electricity, Grandpa can make the earth shake, and Momma can just do everything perfectly. Poppa doesn't have a savvy on account of having married into the family.
- Mibs can barely contain her excitement about finding out what her savvy will be.
- But two days before Mibs's birthday tragedy strikes, and Poppa is rushed to the hospital after a terrible car accident. He won't wake up.
- It's the last day of school for Mibs—after Beaumont children get their savvy, they stay home so that they can learn to keep their savvy in check without hurting other kids. It's hard for Beaumont kids to make and keep friends.
- With Poppa in the hospital in Salina, Momma takes Rocket with her and leaves the rest of the kids at home with Grandpa Bomba.
- After being teased by the local girls, Mibs has trouble concentrating on her last day at school, and things are no better when she gets home.
- The preacher's wife, Miss Rosemary, is being neighborly and taking care of the house while Momma is with Poppa at the hospital.
- Miss Rosemary brought her two children—Roberta "Bobbi" and Will Junior—over to the Beaumont's with her. Bobbi is a typical jaded teenager who was hoping to see Rocket, and is mean to the Beaumont kids; Will Junior is Mibs's age and gets on his sister's case for being mean, even though Mibs tells him not to bother.
- Mibs admits to being curious about Will, who wants to be just like his dad and is always nice to her.
- The kids discover that Samson, one of the younger Beaumont kids, may have killed his pet turtle.
- In the midst of Will offering Mibs his condolences, she prays for her dad and resents the help that Miss Rosemary's family is giving them.
- Finding out that it's Mibs's birthday on Saturday, Miss Rosemary unknowingly decides to throw her a birthday party at the church, despite the fact that Mibs's savvy will be showing up that day. Oops.
- Mibs tries to discourage the party by saying she doesn't have any friends, but Will insists that he's her friend. Bobbi at least tries to get out of going to the party, though it doesn't help Mibs's cause much.
- Miss Rosemary puts her foot down and decides that the party must go on.
- Mibs recalls Rocket's thirteenth birthday, and remembers her grandmother's savvy, which was capturing radio waves in jars. (Um… that's really cool.)
- Rocket's savvy hadn't shown up until late in the day on his birthday, when it looked like he exploded in sparks and caused a neighborhood blackout.
- Mibs—understandably—prays that no one comes to her birthday party.
- On the morning of her thirteenth birthday, Mibs manages to wake up her younger sister Gypsy, who is notoriously hard to wake up, and also wakes up the dead pet turtle… who has actually been hibernating.
- Mibs heads to the church for the party with her brothers, sister, and grandpa in Miss Rosemary's van. She's wearing a special dress that Poppa picked out especially for today.
- Thinking about Poppa's tattoo, Miss Mermaid, (a mermaid wrapped around an anchor on his forearm) Mibs remembers a phone conversation that morning with her mother, where Mibs asked if Momma had kissed Poppa to wake him up. Momma sighed and said that it hadn't woken him up and that the doctors say they'll just have to wait and see.
- The whole family pulls up to the church and a lot of people are there for the party. Fish tries to get Mibs to leave, and starts raising a storm because he believes that Mibs is going to "go off" in front of everyone. Mibs lets him know, though, that she already knows what her savvy is.
- Firmly believing that her savvy is the ability to wake things up, Mibs decides that she needs to get to Salina so that she can wake Poppa up, and starts trying to hatch a plot to get there. Being friendly, Will Junior pulls Mibs away from Fish and into the party.
- As they enter the church Mibs runs into her bullies from school, and though it's her birthday, they tease and embarrass her just like at school. Classy, right? Not. So Fish brings up a strong wind that sends the nasty girls running. Yay.
- They pass by the office of Pastor Meek, who's yelling at a delivery man about some pink Bibles, and then they enter the party room, where Will gives Mibs a present but tells her that it's a pen set before she has the chance to open it.
- Bobbi, who acts very haughty toward Mibs, asks if Rocket is with them.
- Fish keeps watching Mibs as though he expects her to blow up at any second, and like clockwork, Mibs starts to not feel well, like she's getting a headache, except closer to sounding like she's hearing a voice in her head.
- While not feeling well, Mibs knocks Will and a plate of sandwiches over. Bobbi bends over to pick it up and Mibs sees that Bobbi has a tattoo of an angel with a devil tail (of course she does). The tattoo starts moving, then turns to Mibs and starts speaking. Mibs promptly faints.
- Waking up in the pastor's office, Mibs watches the Pastor scream at the thin delivery guy from Heartland Bible Supply, hollering that he will not take the supply of pink Bibles the man has come to deliver.
- At the same time, Fish is arguing with Miss Rosemary so that they won't take Mibs to the hospital.
- While everyone else in the room is fighting with one another, Mibs sits up and listens to two more voices arguing… but they belong to nobody in the room.
- Mibs tries to use her savvy to wake her grandpa up, but can't because everything is so loud she can't hear or concentrate.
- No one in the room notices that Mibs is awake. Will peeks through the door to make sure she is okay, then Mibs escapes the room without drawing attention to herself and asks Will to help her get out of the church.
- Mibs insists that she needs to get to Salina and Will tries to calm her down—but Mibs is adamant that she must get to Salina and use her savvy on her dad.
- Heading out of the church with Will on her heels, Mibs thinks she may run to Salina if she can't find a ride. They walk past Bobbi, who is leaning up against a bus in the parking lot.
- Seeing the Heartland Bible Supply bus, Mibs notices that it's based in Salina, and hatches a scheme to stow aboard so that she'll be able to get to the hospital.
- As she passes Bobbi and Will to get on the bus, Mibs keeps hearing the voice of Bobbi's angel as she listens to the siblings bicker.
- Fish comes out of the church looking for her, but as Mibs goes to hide in the back of the bus, Bobbi decides that everyone is going to Salina and climbs aboard as well. Bummer.
- Fish joins the group and they hide so that the bus driver and Miss Rosemary don't discover them.
- The tattoo tells Mibs that Bobbi is scared. In the back of the bus, everyone finds Samson, who had been hiding there reading old National Geographics.
- The gang keeps very quiet as the bus starts to head out of the parking lot… in the wrong direction for Salina.
- As the bus heads away from Salina instead of toward it, Bobbi acts nonchalant about the situation. Mibs considers what the angel tattoo keeps saying, and realizes that Bobbi is tough and fragile at the same time.
- As Mibs sits on the floor of the bus, she tries to ignore the voices in her head and Fish's anger that they are going in the wrong direction; Mibs worries that she'll turn out just like a crazy person.
- After hours of sitting on the bus, Bobbi gets bored and kicks Fish off of his seat, causing him to retaliate with his savvy. He starts making it storm inside the bus, pelting Bobbi with different publications, until Mibs starts shaking Fish to make him stop.
- When he does, Will and Bobbi stare at the Beaumont kids like they're very weird indeed… and nobody notices at first that the bus has stopped.
- The bus driver finds his stowaways. Oops.
- As the bus driver stares at the kids in bewilderment, Mibs realizes that the other voices she's been hearing have been from two tattoos on the driver's arm, the names Carlene and Rhonda. But that can't be her savvy… right?
- The bus driver, Lester, turns out to be very timid, and so though he tries to convince the kids that they shouldn't be there, he ultimately gives in to Mibs's pleas and lets them stay.
- With that, they get back on the road.
- As the gang drives along, it turns out Lester likes to talk, and the kids learn that the route he's taking won't get them to Salina until the next afternoon. Everyone is upset at this, except for Will, who seems to be having a good time.
- When the bus gets to Lester's next stop, the kids get off and walk around while they wait. Mibs reflects on what Momma said about knowing what your savvy is, and as she steps onto the porch of a house, she remembers how Poppa wanted the biggest porch swing.
- Will joins Mibs on the porch. He tries to pry into why the Beaumonts are different, but she turns it around on him and asks why he's called Will Junior when his father's name isn't William. Will just smiles though, and informs her that she isn't the only one with secrets.
- In order to cheer Mibs up, Will presents Mibs with the present he got for her again, and this time she opens the pen set. Will offers her his hand to try it out on… and Mibs draws a smiling sun that suddenly comes to life. Huh.
- Running away from Will, Mibs cannot shut out the voice of the sun, who keeps trying to tell her Will's secret.
- As Will chases after her, Fish sees that Mibs is in distress, blames Will for it, and starts a fight.
- The two roughhouse as the sun continues to torment Mibs, so she cries out to Will to wash the ink off of his hand.
- Finally realizing what's going on, Fish spits on Will's hand to destroy the drawing, and as the ink is washed away, the voice of the sun becomes less and less coherent.
- Mibs places the pen back in her pocket, feeling worn out as she listens to the voices of Lester's tattoos.
- As the gang gets back on the bus, Mibs has a small breakdown about the state of everything, and Samson touches her, making Mibs feel better.
- Mibs listens to Lester's tattoos some more, and comes to the conclusion that she doesn't like the two women.
- Trying to clean up, Lester asks Bobbi to give some first aid to the boys after their fight, but Bobbi refuses so Mibs tends to the boys instead.
- The angel tattoo tells Mibs that Bobbi isn't sure if she likes Mibs or thinks she's a freak—and Mibs accidently insists out loud to Bobbi that she isn't a freak, then quickly clams up when asked why she said that.
- Questioning Mibs about why everything strange has been happening, Will continues to try to pull the secret out of her.
- As Mibs tries to think of a way to answer Will's questions, she thinks back on what Grandpa and Momma told her about having a savvy, and realizes it is just a family trait—the Beaumonts just happen to be good at certain things.
- Even though Mibs tells Will that her family is just the same as everybody else's, Will isn't buying it and continues to pressure her to reveal more. Furious that Mibs might expose their family, Fish stares daggers at his sis, and she doesn't tell Will anything else.
- Mibs recalls the story of how Momma and Poppa met and got married, as Lester stops the bus on the side of the road and gets off.
- Stopping by the side of the road, Lester gets out to help a big woman who broke down on the side of the road.
- Lester shows Lill, the woman, onto the bus and explains that they'll be taking her to her job at the diner down the road.
- The kids lie to Lill and say that Lester is a family friend who is giving them a ride.
- Lill asks if the gang is made of bad kids after noticing the bruises from the boys' fight, and when Bobbi tells her they are just the misfits, Lill remarks that she'll fit right in.
- Mibs takes to Lill immediately, and Lill asks Mibs questions about her life and helps fix her party dress, which has become disheveled since the morning. Mibs tells Lill how she has to get to Salina to wake up her father.
- Lill points out that Bobbi is only acting "sharp-edged" because she's sixteen, and also that Will Junior has a crush on Mibs. Mibs is embarrassed and protests, but Lill comforts Mibs in a way that reminds her of Momma.
- Samson crawls out of a hiding space, making it known that he's hungry. Promising supper and pie when they get to the diner, Lill gets even tongue-tied Samson to open his mouth to ask if the diner has banana cream.
- As they exit the bus in front of the restaurant, Mibs spies a homeless man lying beside a dumpster. Wondering if he's dead, and wanting to use her savvy to wake him up, Mibs slowly approaches him, touches his wrist, and—inside her head—begs the man to wake up.
- Mibs eventually hears the voice of a tattoo somewhere on the homeless man, and realizes that she has had her savvy wrong the whole day, and as such, that she cannot help her father. Poor Mibs falls into despair.
- As Will pulls Mibs into the crowded restaurant, the number of tattoo voices in the room overwhelms her; luckily Lill pulls the kids into the backroom so that Mibs can feel better.
- Fish stays with Mibs while everyone else heads back into the restaurant to eat. Mibs shows Fish that her savvy is the ability to hear someone's thoughts from ink on their skin, but then Bobbi barges in and reveals that she knows that Mibs can hear thoughts. Uh-oh…
- Turning, Bobbi leaves the backroom, and as the door to the restaurant swings open, Fish and Mibs see an Amber Alert message on the TV with their faces on it.
- They look at each other in horror, and Lill's mean boss, Ozzie, comes barging into the room and accosts them.
- Pushing past Fish and Mibs into the restaurant, Ozzie loudly and obnoxiously fires Lill in front of the entire diner, then pulls a bunch of bills from the till, throws them on the floor, and tells Lill that that is her last paycheck.
- Lester, who's sweet on Lill, stands up to Ozzie as Samson bites Ozzie on the leg. Go team.
- After brandishing a knife at Samson, the rest of the kids all rush him, knocking Ozzie to the floor. Then the gang runs out of the diner immediately, grabbing their burgers on the way out.
- Lester rushes back in for a moment, then runs out again to the bus… holding a stolen banana cream pie just for Samson.
- The gang makes their way back to the bus, careful to avoid Ozzie; Mibs leaves her burger for the homeless man next to the dumpster.
- Now knowing that Mibs can hear her thoughts, Bobbi keeps thinking, "Tell me what I'm thinking" to pull Mibs's secret out of her. Tricky, right?
- After Mibs tells Fish what Bobbi is doing, Fish demands that Bobbi stop bothering Mibs—and when she won't, Fish tries to intimidate her with his storm powers.
- Bobbi is blown into Will, and both kids see Fish's power and recognize that the Beaumont kids are different. Very different.
- Mibs recalls Momma telling Rocket and Fish how they need to learn to "scumble" their savvy, which just means they need to learn to control their powers.
- As Fish's storm gets bigger, the wind pulls a road sign loose and it flies toward Will and Bobbi.
- Mibs screams, but Fish manages to use his savvy to catch the sign with the wind and direct it where he wants it to go. He gets pretty excited that he can now scumble.
- Both of the Meeks kids are changed by the encounter: Bobbi is dazed, but Will finds it intriguing.
- Lester believes the entire encounter was simply a tornado, so everyone piles onto the bus and they decide to finally head to Salina.
- Mentioning that he needs to make another delivery or he may lose his job, the kids protest and Lill questions them about who's expecting everybody.
- When nobody answers her, Lill demands that everyone tell her the truth about what's going on.
- The gang tells Lill the whole story of how they came to be on the bus, and Lill decides that she needs to tell their parents that everyone is okay and also to rent a few motel rooms for everyone for the night.
- After Lill gets rooms for everyone, Lester decides to sleep on the bus. As everyone gets up to their rooms, Mibs hatches a plan with the other kids so that they don't actually have to call home.
- Mibs asks Bobbi to do an impression of Miss Rosemary over the phone. With two hotel rooms, the kids dial the number for the other hotel room and pretend that they are talking to Miss Rosemary so that they can fool Lill.
- As her impression of her mother is very good, Bobbi continues to pretend to be Miss Rosemary and successfully convinces Lill that she is no longer worried about the kids.
- After everyone hangs up the phone, Lill heads across the street for supplies while the kids turn on the TV. Their faces are still showing up as missing, and one channel even mentions Poppa's accident.
- As Mibs starts to suffer with grief over Poppa again, she hears the angel/Bobbi's thoughts saying, "it will be all right." Looks like someone might be warming up to Mibs…
- Returning from the store, Lill comes back with candy, toys, bathing suits, and other supplies for everyone, and the gang scrambles to go swimming while Lill goes to talk to shy Lester and help him with his Bible selling strategy.
- Mibs doesn't know how to put on her bikini properly, so Bobbi fixes the suit for her.
- Fearful of what his savvy might do, Fish stays on the deck looking at the water and saying he's good where he is.
- Will pulls Mibs into the pool, and when she surfaces, he gives her a quick kiss on the lips.
- Fish, seeing what happened, sends a funnel of water at Will to teach him a lesson. Will gets distracted by Fish's power and Mibs heads to the side of the pool to contemplate what just happened.
- Bobbi tells Mibs that Will likes her a lot, and Mibs admits she might like him back. Bobbi admits to liking Rocket and asks about Mibs's mind reading powers, so Mibs tells Bobbi that it has to be with the ink from her tattoo.
- Bobbi tells Mibs that the tattoo is actually just a temporary tattoo and it's gone now. The two girls sit in companionable silence.
- That night Mibs has trouble sleeping and thinks about Grandma's funeral.
- The boys wake the girls up the next morning and Will hints again about his secret; the kids don't let Lill turn on the TV.
- As everyone approaches the bus, Lester is wearing a new tie that Lill bought for him. Mibs listens to the two tattoos say nasty things about Lester, and thinks about how we let too many other people's voices run through our heads sometimes.
- The gang gets on the bus, and prepares to head out for the day.
- Lill nervously waits on the bus as Lester goes in to try and sell some bibles. He comes out smiling and lays a big kiss right on Lill as he relays that he sold enough bibles to make up for what he didn't sell the day before. The boys help him carry the books in.
- When Will sits down next to Mibs on the bus, she turns and tell him that she likes him, but that she's not ready to kiss him yet.
- Will asks for the pen he gave her back, so Mibs sadly returns it; she can't even look at him now. As the bus starts moving again though, she hears Will uncap the pen, and then the voice of a sun he draws on his hand says, "I can wait." It's a super sweet moment.
- The bus starts to pass by a large lake, making Fish fidgety; Mibs makes sure he's got everything under control.
- Lester announces that they'll be stopping by Carlene's place, and Mibs accidently announces that she knows who Carlene is. She listens to the two tattoos call Lester names until she can't stand it anymore, and then she tells Lester that Carlene is a bad person.
- Lill tells Mibs to go sit down. Lester sits in the bus for a while, then turns to Lill and tells her that he needs to settle with Carlene and then he's hers if she'll have him.
- Overcome with joy, Lill enthusiastically replies and Lester's tattoo voice changes from the two women to his own.
- As they approach Carlene's house, most of the group decides to stay put, but Bobbi volunteers to take Samson in to use the bathroom.
- When Carlene starts yelling at Lester, Bobbi sneaks past her into the trailer with Samson; the rest of the kids follow them.
- Lester yells at Carlene, snapping her out of her screaming fit—at which point she realizes that the kids are the ones missing on TV, and says she's calling the police. Everyone runs to the bus to get away as fast as possible.
- As they skid away, Mibs realizes that Samson is not with them.
- Despite the fact that Carlene called the cops, they turn back to get Samson. No child left behind, right?
- At the trailer, Mibs demands to know where Samson is, and Carlene says that he's locked up until the police get there.
- Everyone starts going through Carlene's trailer trying to find Samson, but it's to no avail; then Mibs realizes that she needs a pen to find Samson.
- Desperately, Mibs finds Will to get her pen back. Fish starts using his savvy on Carlene to keep her in one place while Mibs draws a face on the mean woman's hand.
- Shouting, Mibs demands to know where her brother is and Carlene's tattoo mentions a panel on the wall. Mibs then hears Samson's voice in her head saying he's in the wall.
- After some scrambling, they find the panel to the space where Samson is hiding in the wall. When they finally get to Samson, he's covered in drawings he made with a pen so that Mibs could hear him. Good thinking, Samson.
- Just as Mibs finds Samson, Lester and Lill come in from one direction, Carlene breaks free, and the police break down the door. Can you say chaos?
- The police start questioning everyone and Mibs tries to take the blame for everything.
- A social worker shows up and Mibs asks about their father, but gets no answers. She worries as it starts to sound like the plan is for them to go back to Hebron instead of continuing on to Salina.
- Will and Bobbi's brother, Bill (who is also a police officer), shows up at the scene and hugs them—and Mibs realizes that Bill is Will's dad, not the pastor. This is Will's secret.
- She goes up to Bill and starts crying as she insists that she just wanted to see her father.
- Realizing who the other kids are, Bill decides that he's going to take them to see their dad at the hospital. Sadly, though, he tells them that Poppa's condition hasn't improved.
- Bill gets Lester and Lill to drive the kids to the hospital. As they make their way Lill soothes Lester, telling him how they could open a bible selling business together, and Bill escorts the bus.
- On the way to Salina, Mibs thinks about how they have to be strong for Poppa and Bill turns on his siren to get them through traffic faster.
- As they arrive at the hospital, Miss Rosemary, the pastor, Momma, and Rocket are already there. As everyone reunites with their respective families, Mibs asks Momma about Poppa's condition and Momma's face sinks.
- The gang says goodbye to one another, and Miss Rosemary drags her children away to a minivan while Lester and Lill sign off as well.
- The Beaumont family heads up to Poppa's room and privately and briefly asks about Mibs's savvy, which she tells them only a little bit about.
- Before they go into the room, Momma makes sure everyone's savvies are okay, stable and under control.
- Poppa is still in a coma when they get there.
- As the family watches Poppa lying on the hospital bed, Fish reminds Mibs of Miss Mermaid, Poppa's tattoo.
- Thinking that perhaps she can hear Poppa's voice, Mibs closes her eyes. Sadly, though, she can't hear anything; when she lets Fish know, he walks out of the room.
- Refusing to give up, Mibs starts telling Poppa to listen to her, and that he has a savvy, which is never giving up.
- As she talks to him, his tattoo begins to move and she starts to hear his voice in her head.
- Mibs continues to plead for him to wake up as the nurses try to clear the room… and then, suddenly he does. Yay.
- A year later, Mibs and Poppa are sitting on a porch swing at the front of their house, while Rocket is getting ready to head to the middle of Montana so he can learn to scumble his savvy.
- While Poppa is doing better than he was a year ago, he's still recovering and he communicates soundlessly with Mibs through Miss Mermaid.
- Fish has learned to scumble well enough that he can go back to school, though Mibs is going to take another year to make sure she's got the hang of scumbling before returning herself.
- Will and Bobbi are coming over to the house to hang out and so Bobbi can say goodbye to Rocket before he leaves.
- And guess what? It turns out that Momma just might be pregnant with another Beaumont.