in 1934, Kit Kittredge (Abigail Breslin) is determined to become a reporter, and she writes articles on the typewriter in her tree house while drama unfolds beneath her. The mortgage on her house is about to be foreclosed because her father (Chris O'Donnell) lost his car dealership and couldn't keep up with the payments. He has gone to Chicago, Illinois to search for work, and to make some income her mother (Julia Ormond) takes in an odd assortment of boarders, including magician Mr. Berk (Stanley Tucci), dance instructor Miss Dooley (Jane Krakowski), and mobile library driver Miss Bond (Joan Cusack). Locally there have been reports of muggings and robberies supposedly committed by hobos. Kit investigates and meets young Will (Max Thieriot) and Countee (Willow Smith), who live in a hobo camp near the river. Kit writes a story about the camp and tries to sell it to Mr. Gibson (Wallace Shawn), the mean editor of the local newspaper, but he has no interest in the subject. She adopts a dog, her mother buys chickens, and Kit sells their eggs. Then a locked box containing her mother's treasures is stolen, and a footprint with a star matching the one on Will's boot is discovered, making him the prime suspect. It's up to Kit and her friends Stirling (Zach Mills) and Ruthie (Madison Davenport) to gather enough evidence to prove that Will is innocent.