Ten-year-old Liam Rose lives in a basement apartment with his mother, his science-obsessed eight-year-old sister Dakota, his seven-year-old sister Izzy, who has Down Syndrome, and their German shepherd Cupcake. Recently Cupcake has developed a problem - after years of being housebroken, she's suddenly started peeing inside again. If the landlord Mr. Torpse finds out, he'll make them get rid of Cupcake. The family needs $3,000 so Cupcake can go to the veterinary school at UC Davis for further study, but both their mother and their divorced father are cash-strapped. Can the siblings raise the money themselves?
One-Third Nerd contains examples of:
- Amicable Exes: Liam's parents are still on good terms, and even seem to pool finances.
- Calling Parents by Their Name: Dakota calls Mom Kimberly because she's "trying it out." Mom answers, "The name Mom has been around for thousands of years. I think it's a keeper."
- Healthcare Motivation: Dakota sells her purple sequin slippers on eBay. Then she steals Liam's collection of Bigfoot memorabilia and Izzy's stuffed horses and sells them too. Liam is furious with her for stealing, but she justifies it by saying that Cupcake is more important than their things.
- Last-Name Basis: Liam's best friend Sebastian Dodge is known exclusively as Dodge.
- Parental Abandonment: Dodge lives with his grandfather because his mother is "fishing." He refuses to explain in any more detail.
- Tragic Keepsake: Dodge's grandmother Lily died four years ago. Since then, his grandfather Crash has worked to keep all her plants alive. He also won't throw out anything that has her name on it, causing the table to be buried under a mound of junk mail.
- What Are Records?: When Dodge mentions magazines and newspapers, Izzy asks, "What are they?" Dakota explains, "Newspapers are how people used to find out things before cars but after dinosaurs." Mom tells Dakota that newspapers still exist and she reads one online, causing Dakota to grumble that they shouldn't be called newspapers if they're digital.