Seven-year-old Jem Coulter's family is trying to make a go of it in Goldtown, with Pa panning for gold and Mama baking pies and washing laundry to make ends meet. Jem and his little sister, Ellie, do everything they can to help out.
But it's hard to help when Will Sterling, a rich boy with a mean streak, picks on Jem every time he runs errands for Mama. When Will's antics end up ruining the pies, Jem's had enough. No pies means no money for the whole family How can he get Will to stop?
When Strike-It-Rich Sam, Jem's prospector friend, shows up with a scrawny dog, Jem might have an answer to the bully problem. The brave pup can protect them--if only Jem can convince his parents that another mouth to feed is a good idea . . .