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Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective, Case #000005: The Art Teacher's Vanishing Masterpiece
The World Is a Stage
Before I say anything else, you should know right up front that I'm absolutely terrified to speak in front of more than two people at a time.
I'd rather have my two front teeth pulled out with a rusty pair of pliers than stand up in front of my class and give an oral report.
But that's exactly where I find myself, when my life takes an unexpected turn.
As I croak through my carefully memorized introduction, my legs feel like stale bread sticks. My heart feels like a red water balloon bouncing down a long flight of stairs. My tongue has turned into a fur coat.
In short, I'm not feeling so hot.
Just as I start to pick up some speed, a third grader named Jimmy Chee opens the classroom door and destroys my concentration.
The entire class shifts their eyes away from me and stares at Jimmy, as if his appearance is the most amazing thing to happen since the invention of the waffle iron.
Jimmy hands my teacher, Miss Piffle, a note. Every eye in the place follows the little scrap of paper like it's my death warrant. Jimmy gives me a long, strange look and backs out the doorway without a word.
Every eye in the class rotates back in my direction at the same time, like some kind of monster with fifty-three sleepy eyeballs.
Maybe I'm distracted by Jimmy Chee's creepy stare. Or I'm too curious about the contents of that note. Perhaps it's the fact that I can't remember if I zipped up my zipper this morning. Who knows? The only thing I know forsure is that all the words I've worked so hard to memorize are suddenly gone. Lost in space. Missing in action. Gone with the wind.
For a moment I think I might get a nosebleed from sheer panic.
Then I remember the index cards I have squeezed in my damp fist. My little sister, Hailey, suggested I write my speech out on note cards in case I fainted, threw up, or just freaked out in general—they don't call her a genius for nothing!
But there's a problem: When I flatten the index cards, I moan in horror when I realize these are not my cards at all! They're index cards detailing all the boys my big sister, Jessie, thinks are cute. What on earth?
"You'll have to stop right there, Sherlock," Miss Piffle says. She's staring at the note with a soaring eyebrow. "I'm afraid you need to leave right now."
"Thank you," I whisper.
Although I don't realize it yet, my fifth case as a private detective has finally arrived. Good thing, too, because I was about to fake my own death.Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective, Case #000005: The Art Teacher's Vanishing Masterpiece. Copyright © by Dave Keane. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.