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It was Thursday afternoon.
Dawn Bosco turned the page of her book. She wanted to get to the end before art.
She had to find out about the secret in the old house.
Ms. Rooney looked up. "Dawn, are you listening?"
Dawn closed her book.
"Today is Good Vegetable Day," said Ms. Rooney.
Dawn rolled her pencil down her desk.
She hated vegetables.
She thought about the girl in her book, Diane the Detective.
Dawn wished she could be a detective, too.
She wished she could solve a mystery. A scary one.
"Who has a favorite vegetable?" asked Ms. Rooney.
Jason Bazyk waved his hand. "Apples," he said.
"That's not a vegetable," said Timothy Barbiero.
"How about spinach?" asked Ms. Rooney. "Or cabbage?"
"Yuck," Dawn said.
Next to her, Emily Arrow said yuck, too.
Dawn looked at Emily.
Sometimes they were friends. Sometimes they weren't.
She had done something bad to Emily.
She had taken her unicorn.
That was weeks ago, though. She had given it back.
Maybe Emily didn't remember it anymore. Dawn hoped not.
The bell rang. It was time for art.
Dawn raced to the front of the line. She edged in ahead of Emily.
Dawn loved to be first.
Emily gave her a little push.
Emily liked to be first, too.
They marched into the art room.
On every table were lumps of gray stuff. There were little bowls of water, too.
Dawn wondered what they were for.
Mrs. Kara, the art teacher, clapped her hands. "Today is Good Vegetable Day."
"I'm sick of vegetables," said Jason.
Dawn was sick of vegetables, too. She poked her finger into the gray stuff.
It was soft. Gooey.
It felt like chewing gum.
Mrs. Kara held up a piece. "This is clay," she said.
Dawn wrinkled her nose. At home her clay was red and yellow and green. Not yuck gray.
"We are going to make Good Vegetables," said Mrs. Kara. "Watch. I'm going to make a head of lettuce."
Mrs. Kara rolled a fat ball. She made a curly top.
She kept wetting her lettuce with her fingers. "The water makes it easier to shape," she said.
Dawn looked out the window. If only she could find a mystery!
Mrs. Kara held up her gray lettuce.
Jill Simon started to cry. "I don't know how to do it."
"Of course you do," said Mrs. Kara. "Now, everyone pick a vegetable."
Dawn pulled at her clay. She'd make a cucumber. That would be easy.
Emily Arrow put up her hand. "I'm going to make a cucumber."
"Me, too," said Dawn.
Mrs. Kara frowned a little. "Make something else, Dawn."
Dawn crossed her eyes at Emily.
She tried to think of something else to make.
Beast was making a string bean. He mashed the clay against the table.
He was making a big mess.
Jill Simon was making an onion. It looked like fat gray ball with lines.
Dawn dug into her own clay.
She made a fat carrot.
It was much better than Emily's cucumber.
Emily's cucumber was too fat on one end. It was too skinny on the other. It looked like a mouse.
"We'll put the vegetables on the windowsill," said Mrs. Kara. "Everyone will see them."
Dawn rushed to finish first. Her hands were gray. So were her nails.
"Hurry," said Mrs. Kara. "It's almost time to go home."
Dawn went to the art room closet to wash.
A minute later, Emily came in. So did Sherri Dent and Jill and Linda Lorca.
The water in the sink was icy cold.
They all put their hands in it.
Everyone was laughing.
Everyone but Dawn and Emily.
Emily was taking up too much room, Dawn thought.
She gave her a little push.
Emily pushed back.
A gold ring lay on the ledge of the sink.
Dawn poked it back against the wall. She didn't want it to go down the drain.
"Move over," she told Emily.
"You move over, carrot legs," Emily told her.
Dawn sniffed. "You don't know beans from grapes." She took a piece of brown paper to dry her hands.
She marched out of the closet.
She wished she could find a crime right now.
She'd solve it in two minutes.
Emily would be sorry.
Very sorry.CHAPTER 2
The next morning, Dawn waited at the corner.
She stamped up and down in her new cowgirl boots.
Her grandmother had bought them for her.
Noni bought her everything. Almost everything.
"Hi," Dawn called to Carmen, the crossing guard.
Carmen didn't call back. She was too busy. She waved her arms around. Dawn waved her arms around, too.
She'd love to wear a blue hat and a badge.
She'd love to tell people what to do.
She'd tell the good kids to cross first.
She'd make the bad kids cross last.
She'd make Emily Arrow stand on the corner forever.
Carmen held up her hand.
A green car stopped. So did a white one.
Dawn held up her hand, too.
Carmen smiled at her. "You can cross now."
Dawn started across the street.
"What's cooking, Cookie?" Carmen asked.
Carmen said that every day.
Dawn lifted one foot high in the air.
"New tights?" Carmen asked.
Dawn shook her head. Her tights were a hundred years old. They had a hole in the toe.
"Cowgirl boots," she said.
"Nice." Carmen held up her hand. "Have a good Friday."
Dawn marched into the Polk Street School. She went down the hall into Room 113.
She hoped everyone could see her boots.
She made believe they had a speck on them.
She bent down to clean them off.
Jason bumped into her. He nearly knocked her over.
"Sorry," he yelled. He slid out of her way.
"Not so loud, Jason," said Ms. Rooney.
Dawn shook her head. Jason was loud. He was loud even when he whispered.
Dawn sat in her seat, next to Emily Arrow.
Emily was running her unicorn across the desk. She was making snorting noises.
Dawn made herself say hello to Emily.
Her father said to be friends with everyone.
Emily didn't say hello back.
She snorted through her nose again.
Dawn wanted to pop her in the face.
Then she saw that Emily was crying.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
Emily didn't answer.
Up in front, Ms. Rooney clapped her hands. "Settle down, everyone."
Beast slid into his seat. So did Jason and the rest of the class.
Dawn sat up straight.
"I have some serious news," Ms. Rooney said.
Ms. Rooney looked angry.
No. Ms. Rooney looked sad.
Dawn wondered why.
She looked at Emily out of the corner of her eye.
Emily was crying hard.
"Something has happened," Ms. Rooney said. "We have a mystery in Room 113."
Dawn took a breath.
"Something is missing," Ms. Rooney said.
Dawn looked around.
Everything seemed the same to her.
The flagpole was in the front of the room. The plants were on the windowsill.
The picture of George Washington was hanging on the wall.
Next to her, Emily Arrow was crying harder.
"Matthew's head is missing," Beast said.
Matthew started to laugh. "You never even had a head," he told Beast.
"This is not the time for fooling around," said Ms. Rooney.
"Shh," Dawn said to help her out.
Ms. Rooney frowned a little. "Emily Arrow's ring is missing."
Dawn looked at Emily. Emily's eyes were red. So was her nose.
Dawn thought of her book, The Secret of the Old House.
A ring was even better than an old house.
She was sorry Emily's ring was gone.
She was glad, too.
She couldn't wait to solve the mystery.CHAPTER 3
"It was my birthday ring," said Emily.
"The one with the blue stone?" Jason asked.
"The one with the crack in it?" Alex Walker asked.
"It was only a little crack," Emily said. "You couldn't even see it."
"I could," said Alex.
Dawn thought for a minute.
She knew she had seen that ring.
Where was it?
She closed her eyes.
Then she remembered. Yesterday afternoon.
It was on the art room sink. It was full of soap.
Dawn put up her hand.
Ms. Rooney looked at her.
"May I get a drink of water?" Dawn asked.
"Do it quickly," said Ms. Rooney.
Dawn started out the door.
Ms. Rooney was saying, "Think hard, everyone. Did anyone see ..."
Dawn took a quick drink of water.
She didn't really want water.
She wanted to go to the art room.
She'd get Emily's ring. She'd bring it to the classroom.
Emily would be thrilled.
Jason would say, "Dawn's a great detective."
Maybe Ms. Rooney would excuse her from homework.
She hurried down the hall.
Her cowgirl boots made clicking noises.
She clicked a little harder.
"Hey," said the monitor.
Dawn wanted to say "hey" back to him. He had a fresh face, though.
She stopped clicking. She turned the corner.
Mrs. Kara was in the art room.
Dawn put her head in. "I think Emily left something here."
Mrs. Kara looked up. She had a spot of paint on her nose. "All right."
Dawn went into the closet. She took a deep breath.
She loved the smell in there.
She wished her father had the same floor-washing stuff.
She looked on the sink.
Just a piece of brown soap.
She picked up the spaghetti mop.
Not there either.
Mrs. Kara let her try in the art room.
She looked all over.
The ring was gone.
Dawn went down the hall.
Jason was getting a drink. His cheeks were fat with water. He made crazy eyes at her.
Dawn laughed. She went into the classroom.
Ms. Rooney was taking lunch money. There was a line at her desk.
Dawn stood in back of Emily and Sherri.
Emily had stopped crying. She looked sad, though.
"Maybe you left the ring at home," Sherri said.
Emily shook her head.
"I bet you did," said Sherri.
"I wore it to school yesterday," Emily said. "I had it in art."
"She's right." Dawn leaned forward. "I saw it. It was on the art room sink."
Sherri's eyes opened wide. "Maybe you took it, Dawn."
"I did not."
"I bet you did," Sherri said.
"I even looked in the art room," Dawn said. "I tried to find it."
"Maybe it's in your pencil box," Sherri said to Dawn.
"Maybe," said Linda.
Dawn gave her milk money to Ms. Rooney. "Chocolate," she said. "Please."
She took the pink ticket. Then she went back to her seat.
She pulled out her pencil box.
She took out her pencil with the tassel.
She took out her ruler.
She took out her eraser.
"See, smarty," she said to Sherri. "No ring." Beast turned around. "You took Emily's unicorn last time."
Then Jill turned around, too. She looked as if she would cry.
Jill always looked that way.
Dawn looked at the other kids.
All of them were looking at her.
"I didn't take the ring," she whispered.
Nobody said anything.
Maybe nobody believed her.CHAPTER 4
After school Dawn waited in the school yard.
She wanted to stay away from Sherri.
She didn't want to see the rest of the class, either.
Everyone thought she had taken Emily's ring.
Maybe even Jason Bazyk, the nicest boy she knew.
Dawn picked up a stick. She waved it in the air.
She made believe she was a cowgirl. She was rounding up cattle.
"Yip-pi-ai-ay," she said.
Then she broke the stick. She pushed it through the fence.
She didn't feel like playing cowgirl.
She didn't feel like playing anything.
She looked around. Everyone was gone.
She went out the gate and started for the corner.
Carmen, the guard, was standing next to the mailbox.
All the cars were whizzing by.
"What's cooking, Cookie?" Carmen asked.
Dawn tried to smile.
Carmen pushed back her hat. "Lost all your get-up-and-go?"
"I guess so," Dawn said.
"Tough cowgirl like you?"
Dawn raised one shoulder.
"Nobody liked your cowgirl boots?"
"I don't know," Dawn said.
Carmen put her whistle in her mouth. She went to the middle of the street.
All the cars stopped.
"All right, Cookie," Carmen told her.
Dawn marched across the street.
The people in the cars were watching her.
She hoped they saw her cowgirl boots.
She almost forgot about Emily and the ring.
At the other side she stopped to wave at Carmen.
Carmen crossed the street after her.
Dawn hoped she wasn't going to ask what was the matter.
Dawn didn't want her to know about the ring.
Dawn didn't want her to think she had stolen it.
Carmen didn't ask, though.
She put her hand on Dawn's arm.
"Just chase that trouble away," she said.
"I will," Dawn said.
She went down the street. She wondered how you could chase trouble away.
Carmen called after her. "Get back your get-up-and-go."
"I will," Dawn said again. Carmen was right, she thought.
She put her head up.
She raised her boots high.
"Get up and go," she said in a loud voice.
A boy put his head over the fence. "Get up and gone," he said. He made a circle next to his ear with his finger. "Crazy."
Dawn made believe she didn't see him.
"Chase that trouble away," she said in her head.
She stopped at the corner.
She felt a lump in her throat.
There was only one way.
Find the ring.
Find the person who had taken it.
"Get up and go," she said.
She raced down the street.
She had to get some stuff together.
She went into the house.
She called hello to her father.
She said hi to Noni.
Noni was sewing a top for her. It had lace all over it.
Her brother Chris was on the floor. He was watching TV.
She stepped over him and went up the stairs.
Her cowgirl boots clicked hard.
In her bedroom she opened her closet door.
She climbed behind her clothes.
Yes. Everything was there.
She was ready to solve the crime.CHAPTER 5
Dawn opened her eyes. It was Saturday morning.
She slid out of bed. She put on the new top Noni had made. She pulled on her jeans with the hearts.
She dragged the box out of the closet.
It was a wonderful box. It was big and white. It had fat pink polka dots.
Noni had bought it for her birthday.
Noni knew she wanted to solve mysteries.
She opened the box. Inside was everything she needed.
On top was a polka dot hat. It was pink, too. A blue eye was painted on the front.
She pushed it down on her head.
It was much too big. She couldn't see.
She stuck some paper inside.
In the mirror she looked great. No one would know about the paper.
She went down for breakfast.
Chris was watching TV. He had a bowl of Puff and Pops on the rug.
He was leaning over it.
Drops of milk were all over the rug.
"Daddy's going to kill you," Dawn told him.
"Get lost, pinhead," he said. He took a huge spoonful of cereal.
Then he looked at her.
He started to laugh.
Puff and Pops flew all over the place.
"That hat," he said. He slapped his leg.
Dawn stepped over him. "It's my detective hat."
"It must be a size one hundred," he said.
She went into the kitchen.
Her father was standing at the sink. He was eating an orange.
"Where's Mommy?" Dawn asked.
"She's still asleep," he said, "She worked hard all week. Noni, too."
"How do you like my hat?" Dawn asked. She pushed it up.
Her father looked as if he were going to laugh. "It's fine," he said. "I see it has a private eye on the front."
Dawn nodded. "I don't know why."
"People call detectives private eyes," he said.
"Detectives watch," said her father. "They see things. Then they can solve crimes."
He tossed her an orange.
It rolled on the floor.
"Sorry," her father said.
"It's all right." She picked up the orange. "I'm not a great catcher." She peeled it. She popped a piece into her mouth.
Her father poured her a bowl of Puff and Pops. "You're a great detective."
"Right." She started to eat as fast as she could.
"Slow down," her father said.
She chewed a little slower.
"I wanted to be a detective," her father said. He looked up at the ceiling. "I was seven years old."
"Why didn't you?"
He laughed. "I never could find a crime to solve."
Dawn looked at her cereal.
She wanted to tell about the ring.
She picked up her spoon.
She couldn't, though. Then she'd have to tell about the unicorn.
Her father would find out she had taken it.
He'd feel sad.
She'd better not tell him.
She took the last Puff and Pop.
"I'm going out," she said.
"Me, too," said her father.
"I think I'll rake."
"I'm going to take my detective box," she said. "It has lots of good stuff."
"I hope you find a crime to solve," he said.
Dawn went back to her bedroom for the box.
It was heavy.
She lugged it downstairs.
Chris started to laugh again.
"Bean nose," she told him.
She went out the door.
She'd go to school.
She'd look all over the place.
She'd solve the crime—one, two, three.
Dawn the detective.
Dawn the private eye.
Excerpted from The Mystery of the Blue Ring by Patricia Reilly Giff, Blanche Sims. Copyright © 1987 Patricia Reilly Giff. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 4, 2011
How absolutely adorable! This book is a fun way to teach several important lessons. Not only do the children learn about not jumping to conclusions and how to think through a problem logically but they also learn how it feels to be accused of something you didn't do and how one mistake can color other's opinion of you in the future.
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