Nestled inside a lighthouse, Great Rapscott School for the Daughters of Busy Parents takes its motto from Amelia Earhart: Adventure is worthwhile in itself. Headmistress Ms. Rapscott couldn't agree more, but her students, who are shipped to the school in boxes, could use a little convincing. Still, despite their initial reluctance, the students are soon soaring through the sky and getting lost on purpose.
Great Rapscott School for the Daughters of Busy Parents is not your typical boarding school. Students arrive in boxes, birthday cake is served for breakfast, and two very talented corgis assist the rather quirky headmistress. This semester the girls will learn how to get to The Top, but the semester is not off to a good start. One of the girls doesn't make it back to school, and when her friends try to rescue her, they wind up at the Bottom of the Barrel. Luckily Ms. Rapscott knows that learning to fail is the secret to Going Far in life.
For seven years, bad luck has followed Ivy around like a dog on a leash. Her father disappeared. Her mother is a washed up beauty pageant winner. Her aunt Viola has died. Viola did leave Ivy and her mother a house on Gumm Street, but it's not much of a house, and Ivy's next-door neighbors (bookish Pru, stuck-up Cat, and wannabe adventurer Franny) are worse than unfriendly. But then a mysterious pair of ruby red slippers turn up, and the four girls are swept away.