Mark is moving. Not moving, really, just "transfering" to another house. His family has plenty to choose from. He's leaving the house in Scarsdale, New York (it'll be nice to have a home so close to New York City, his parents believe) and going to the new house in Whitson, New Hampshire - purchased and remodeled to the tune of $3.5 million. His parents, on business in San Francisco, won't be there of course. Business is business. But Leon and Anya, the Russian couple hired five years ago as handyman and housekeeper (and babysitter, thinks Mark), will move with Mark.
Mark's also leaving Lawton Country Day School to attend Runyon Acadamy, a private boarding school. But for the end of fifth grade he'll attend Hardy Elementary, the local public school in Whitson.
Where he meets Mr. Maxwell. Who cuts and splits his own fire wood. Who built his own log cabin and installed solar panels and a generator that made electricity from the stream on his property. Who installed a filter to cut down the pollution from his wood burning furnace. Who has worked hard for everything. THAT Mr. Maxwell.
Can you see the collision coming? Mr. Maxwell puts 100% into everything and Mark, uninterested in his temporary public school, is a major slacker. Mr. Maxwell has planned A Week in the Woods, a five day camping trip for the entire fifth grade, for 16 years, and this year Mark is going. Just when their relationship starts to improve, Mark is busted on the trip for something that's not his fault, and he loses any respect he's earned from Mr. Maxwell.
Despite being a slacker, Mark has really gotten into "the woods." So out of anger and the injustice of being sent home as punishment, he runs away. To the woods. He disappears. And Mr. Maxwell heads out to find him. The events that follow test both Mark and Mr. Maxwell's knowledge of the woods, and all their knowledge will be needed for them to return in one piece.