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"Hurry, Benny," Jessie called from downstairs.
"I'm hurrying," six-year-old Benny answered, impatiently slicking down his hair. He wanted to look his best tonight for Joe and Alice Alden, their cousins, who had invited all the Aldens for a surprise celebration. What were they celebrating? He was glad Joe and Alice had moved from Pine Grove to Greenfield. He liked them a lot.
Violet poked her head in. "Are you ready?" She paused. "You look handsome, Benny."
Benny grinned at her as he followed her down the steps. "You look handsome, too, Violet."
Jessie, waiting at the bottom of the stairs, said, "Yes, Violet does look pretty."
Ten-year-old Violet, in her lavender sweater and jeans, beamed. Jessie, who was twelve, wore a white cotton shirt and a chocolate-brown sweater, which matched her long hair, and brown pants. Watch, their dog, sat by the door. He barked, hoping to go along.
"Not tonight, Watch," Violet said, patting his head.
Struggling into her ski jacket, Jessie said, "Grandfather's warming up the station wagon."
"Where's Henry?" Benny asked, looking around.
"In the car with Grandfather," Jessie replied, pulling the hood of her jacket over her head.
Benny put on his down jacket and pulled on his mittens. "I want to see what Joe and Alice are celebrating, don't you?"
"Yes!" Violet said. "It sounds like a surprise and I like surprises."
Jessie laughed, opening the door. "So do I." It was odd that Grandfather didn't act as if he was going to be surprised. Every time they mentioned the dinner at Joe and Alice's, he just gave a knowing little smile. She was certain he knew what was going on.
Benny ran down the walk, which was heaped with snow on either side. He'd helped Henry shovel this morning. He jumped into the backseat. "We're all together and we're off to a celebration!" he shouted, sitting next to Jessie.
Grandfather glanced back at his grandson. "That's right, Benny." He smiled, pleased that his grandchildren always got along with one another so well.
The car wheels crunched over the packed snow on the short drive through town. Benny watched wide-eyed as they passed sparkling windows filled with toys. In the town square a huge Christmas tree towered, gleaming with red and green lights. Next to the tree stood a giant menorah, its candles casting light over the glistening snow.
When they reached the edge of Greenfield where Joe and Alice lived, fluffy snowflakes had started to drift onto the ground.
"Good weather for ice skating," Jessie said.
"Better weather for hockey," Henry teased, his eyes sparkling. He knew, though, that Jessie was the best and most graceful skater of them all.
"Here we are, children," Grandfather said, parking before an old, gray-shingled, three-story house. Tiny white lights twinkled on a pine tree on the spacious lawn.
"Doesn't the house look beautiful?" Violet said. "It's very different from the way it was when Joe and Alice first bought it." She giggled. "Remember Joe's foot breaking through the porch step?"
Henry got out, opening the back car door for Benny and the girls. "We did a lot of work on the old Roth house before Joe and Alice moved in," he said.
"We sure did! And remember we thought the house was haunted," Benny said, running alongside Henry on the way to the front door. Lifting the eagle door knocker, which was framed by a large evergreen wreath, Benny waited. He stomped first one booted foot, then another.
"You children have cleaned many places," Grandfather said. "The deserted library and ..."
"The old motel," Violet added. "But each place was different. It's fun to see the before and after."
"Don't forget we stayed by ourselves in the boxcar," Henry said. "Remember, we ran away, so we wouldn't have to live with a grandfather we'd never known." He paused, smiling. "We didn't realize how lucky we were when Grandfather found us."
"That's right!" Benny said emphatically.
Just then Alice flung wide the front door. "I thought I heard voices."
"Come in," Joe said. "Let me take your coats."
"How wonderful everything is," Jessie exclaimed, admiring the many candles and the lovely red carpet. Two crimson wingback chairs nestled before the fireplace.
Violet walked over to the fire to warm her hands. She gazed above the mantel at the portrait of a young girl. This was the girl who had once lived here and had run away to marry against her father's wishes. "I see you've hung Celia Roth's painting."
"Yes," Joe said, standing beside her. "She's part of the house. We've become good friends with Celia, you know. And even though she's old and doesn't get around very well, she visits us every so often."
Alice joined them, and Joe slipped his arm around her waist. "I'm glad we bought this house. At first I was afraid it might need too much work."
"You've changed it into a charming home," Grandfather said.
Benny sniffed. "I smell something good," he hinted.
Alice leaned down. "You're not hungry, are you, Benny?"
He peered up at her. "A little," he admitted.
Joe laughed. "Maybe roast beef and mashed potatoes will satisfy your appetite."
Benny looked up, nodding vigorously.
Soon everyone was seated around the dining-room table. Benny piled his plate with broccoli, beef, and potatoes, then helped himself to a hot biscuit.
"This salad is delicious," Violet said shyly.
"Thanks, Violet," Alice said, setting cranberry sauce by Benny's elbow.
Once cake and ice cream were served, Joe cleared his throat. "I've invited everyone here to share our good news." He gazed with affection at Alice.
"What is it?" Benny leaned forward, his eyes big.
"Something wonderful," Joe said. "Your grandfather and his lawyer have worked with Alice and me to bring us a child from Korea."
"Yes, we are flying to Seoul in two days to pick up a little Korean girl we are going to adopt," Alice said, her pretty face glowing.
"Her name is Soo Lee and she is seven years old," Joe said, a broad smile lighting his face, too.
"A little girl!" exclaimed Jessie.
Questions flew back and forth. All evening they discussed Joe and Alice's adopted daughter. How would she like American food? How would she be dressed? Would she understand English? Would she make friends at school?
When it was time to leave, Joe and Alice kissed their cousins. Joe shook Grandfather's hand. "Thanks for all your help, Uncle James. I see you can keep a secret. I've never seen such surprised faces!"
Standing in the doorway, Alice waved. "We'll see you on our return."
Once in the car, Benny asked, "What does adopted mean?"
"Adopted means to take someone into your home," Henry explained. "Someone to be your very own, because the child's parents can't take care of her or him."
"And," Grandfather continued, "papers will be signed showing that Joe and Alice are the child's legal parents."
Benny's round face wore a puzzled frown. "What does legal mean?" he questioned, cocking his head.
"Legal means that 'by law' Joe and Alice will be recognized as Soo Lee's mother and father," Jessie said.
"Oh," Benny said, sinking back against the seat. "I guess I understand."
That night, Jessie pulled up her comforter and stared out the window. She tried to imagine what the Korean child would be like. She was sure Soo Lee would be happy to be welcomed into such a warm and loving home. She wondered where Korea was exactly. She knew the country was near China, but she wanted to know more about it. Tomorrow they must go to the library and find all the information they could on Korea.
But the next morning, Grandfather had even more news — news so exciting that Jessie changed her mind about going to the library.CHAPTER 2
The Murrays' Party
When the children came down for breakfast, Grandfather glanced up from his newspaper. "Mrs. McGregor set four places for you and left the oatmeal on the stove," he said, finishing his coffee. "She went to spend the holidays with her sister in Oregon."
Violet sipped her orange juice. "We don't need a housekeeper," she said. "We'll cook for you, Grandfather."
James Alden chuckled. "I'm afraid you'll be on your own most of the time. For the next week, I'll be attending meetings of the hospital directors." Then he added with a twinkle in his eye, "Do you think you can manage?"
"Oh, I think so," Henry said, rising and filling each bowl with oatmeal and raisins.
"Yes, we've been on our own thousands of times," Benny said.
Henry laughed. "Not quite that many, but we can cook, clean house, shop, and run errands," he said with pride in his voice.
"Good!" Grandfather said, pushing back his chair and standing. "Then I'm off to a committee meeting. I knew I needn't worry about you." He paused, a smile spreading across his face. "I almost forgot." He pulled an envelope from his pocket. "You know," he continued, "that I'm on the board of directors of Greenfield Hospital. Well, a skating troupe is coming to town to do a holiday benefit performance for the hospital."
"A skating troupe coming here!" Jessie exclaimed. If there was anything she loved it was ice skating! She enjoyed gliding across the ice, and she loved watching excellent skaters.
"Oh, boy!" Benny clapped his hands. "May we go and see the ice skaters?"
Grandfather laughed. "Better than that, Benny." He handed the envelope to Violet.
Violet opened the flap and pulled out a heavy card with gold printing.
"Read it," Henry urged.
Clearing her throat, Violet read: "To James Alden and Guests. You are invited to a party for the Starlight Skating Troupe. Thursday, December 27. 7:30. William and Sara Murray. 222 White Oak Lane."
Jessie sank back in her chair. The Starlight Troupe! One of the best skating shows in the country!
Between mouthfuls of toast, Benny said, "I like ice skaters, too." His eyes shone.
Grandfather nodded, happy to see their reaction. "I know you'll enjoy them. Not only that, but the skaters will be practicing all week at the Civic Center. You can watch them whenever you want."
Jessie gasped with pleasure. "I can't believe it," she said.
"Are the skaters in town now?" Henry inquired.
"They arrive this afternoon," James Alden answered. "We'll meet them tonight at the Murrays. You remember my good friends, William and Sara. They'll be delighted to see you again."
"You mean we're invited, too?" Violet asked in a soft voice.
Grandfather smiled. "I wouldn't go without you. You all are the 'guests' in the invitation."
"I suppose I have to get dressed up." Benny wrinkled his nose. "Don't I?"
James Alden nodded. "It's a special party. You want to look your best when you meet the ice skaters, don't you, Benny?"
"Sure." His round face brightened. "Maybe they'll teach me how to skate backward."
"I think," Henry said, "that first you should learn to skate forward."
"I know how to skate forward!" Benny protested in a loud voice.
"Yes, you do, Benny," Violet said, smiling. "But don't you think you could be a little more steady on your feet?"
Benny glanced at Violet, reluctantly agreeing. "I guess so. I want to skate without falling down so many times."
That afternoon the children went to the grocery store, then Henry read a mystery, Benny and Violet worked on a jigsaw puzzle, and Jessie wrote a letter to Aunt Jane.
In the late afternoon they made a light supper of toasted ham-and-cheese sandwiches and milk. They knew more food would be served at the party.
At seven o'clock, Jessie was the first one ready, so she sat by the fireplace, waiting for the others. She read and petted Watch, who snuggled next to her on the loveseat. She was looking especially pretty tonight, wearing a hair clip that had been a gift from Grandfather. She wore a blouse and skirt.
Soon Violet, in a green velvet dress, joined
Jessie. "What! No lavender?" Jessie teased.
"Not tonight," Violet said, sitting on a footstool before the fire. "This is my holiday dress."
Henry appeared the most grown-up in his gray blazer and navy trousers.
Benny rushed in. "I'm ready." His hair was neatly combed, and he was wearing a navy jacket and gray pants.
Grandfather was elegant in his tuxedo and bow tie. He held out two elbows to escort Jessie and Violet to the car.
When they arrived at the arched doorway of the Murrays' mansion, a woman in black, with a white apron and cap, opened the door and took their coats. Violet gasped at the large oak-paneled hall, the glittering crystal chandeliers, and the flames dancing in the marble fireplace.
Benny admired the toy soldiers lined up on the mantelpiece.
A tall woman, with white hair piled on top of her head, held out her arms and came toward them. "James! How nice to see you!"
She brushed Grandfather's cheek with a quick kiss. Then she smiled at the younger Aldens. "I haven't seen your grandchildren for some time. Let's see," she said, tapping a ringed finger on her chin, "this is Jessie, and Violet, and, oh, my," she paused to gaze at Henry, "how tall you've grown, Henry, and this is ... is ..."
"Benny!" Benny piped up.
"Of course. Benny," Sara said.
Wide-eyed, Benny stared at Sara. "You shine more than all the holiday lights put together," he marveled.
"I guess I do," Mrs. Murray said with a laugh, touching her diamond necklace. Her dangling diamond earrings, diamond ring, and ruby bracelet shimmered in the light.
William Murray hurried to greet them. "The Aldens! I've been waiting for you! I want you to meet our honored guests, the ice skaters." William Murray and James Alden were the same age, but there the resemblance ended. James was tall, William was short and chubby.
William patted Benny on the back. "Make yourself at home, young man."
"I will," Benny promised.
After welcoming the other children, William left with James for a discussion in the study.
Jessie craned her neck, attempting to spot the ice skaters. In the center of the room, a small blonde woman chatted with an attractive young man. Apparently they were members of the troupe.
But before Jessie introduced herself, a plump woman with short black hair bustled up to Sara Murray. "Have you seen Ollie Olson?" she asked. "I can't keep track of him."
"The last I saw of Ollie, the clown," Mrs. Murray said, "he was filling his plate at the buffet table."
"Aha!" the frowning woman exclaimed. "I knew it! He's breaking training again!"
Mrs. Murray introduced each Alden. "Children, meet Janet O'Shea, the owner of the Starlight Troupe."
Janet, however, scarcely noticed the children. "I must find Ollie," she said, pressing her lips firmly together. "I'm sending him back to the hotel!" She strode off, leaving the Aldens to stare after her.
A short time later she passed by with a skinny man, who towered over her. They walked swiftly through the room. Janet was saying, "Go back to the hotel! And don't order room service! I can't afford it!" That must be Ollie with Miss O'Shea, Jessie thought.
The clown skater gave Janet a mock bow and was gone before they could meet him.
"Ollie's impossible!" Janet muttered.
What a rude woman, Jessie thought. If the other skaters were like her, she didn't care whether she met them or not!CHAPTER 3
When Sara Murray asked the Aldens if they'd like to meet a pair of skaters, Jessie forgot about the unfriendly owner of the troupe.
Mrs. Murray steered Jessie, her brothers, and sister through the crowd and over to the same blonde woman and young man Jessie had seen earlier. "This is Alexandra Patterson and Carl Underhill. Carl used to play hockey."
Alexandra turned, pleased to meet the Aldens. Carl, just as friendly as Alexandra, shook hands with each of them.
From the way Carl gazed at Alexandra and the way Alexandra's eyes lit up when she looked at Carl, Violet thought the two were in love.
"You're lucky to live in Greenfield," Alexandra said, holding a pink rose, a shade darker than her chiffon dress. "From what I've seen, it's a lovely town."
Jessie kept staring at Alexandra. Finally she said, "We like it here. Where are you from, Alexandra?"
"I'm from Chicago, the Windy City. And, please call me Alex." The dainty girl's laugh tinkled lightly on the air. All at once she dropped her rose. Carl stooped to retrieve it, but Henry had already scooped it up and returned it to her.
"Why, thank you, Henry," Alex said, her green eyes sparkling with pleasure.
Amazed, Benny watched as a flush of crimson crept over Henry's face.
"Ever play hockey?" Carl asked.
"Wh-what?" Henry stammered, still gazing at Alex.
"Ever play hockey?" Carl repeated.
At last Henry turned to Carl. "Yes. I like hockey."
"Good. Is there a place we can play outdoors?"
"Down at Burton's Park," Benny said. "The city floods it in the winter. All the kids skate there."
"Sounds good," Carl said. "How about a game?"
"You name the time," Henry said. "I know you need to practice."
"Oh, yes." Carl glanced at Janet O'Shea. "Boss lady is cracking the whip. The company could go under if our show doesn't earn more money." He paused, then grinned. "But we'll play on Tuesday. How about it?"
"A game with you would be great," Henry responded. "I'm sure you can teach me the finer points of hockey."
"Me, too." Benny rubbed his chin. "First, though, I'm too wobbly. I need to learn how to stand up long enough to hit the puck."
Carl laughed. "We'll work on that, Benny." He thought a second. "What time on Tuesday?"
"Two o'clock, okay?" Henry said.
"You've got it," Carl said.
Excerpted from The Mystery on the Ice by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Charles Tang. Copyright © 1993 Albert Whitman & Company. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
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 March 6, 2015
This book all starts with special news from their cousin .When they got the news it was very surprising to them they also got an invite from Murray to go ice skating .the kids are Henry is the oldest then comes Jessie, Violet, and the youngest is Benny. At fist the kids lived in a boxcar because they didn’t want to stay with their grandfather, they thought their grandfather was mean but he was nice. It actually took them a while to figure it out.
After they got the news from their cousin and they went over for the surprise. At that time it was close to Christmas. After the surprise they went over for the skating party and that’s when the mystery begins. There was a thief that had stolen a diamond rind that was very special to someone .the kids were on the case and they saw someone in a green costume and he or she was up to something .At the end they solved the mystery on ice and they had a new cousin to their family she was adopted and is eight years old her name is Soo Lee she was from Asia. Soo Lee was so kind she gave Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny and it was their present for Christmas and for solving the mystery. I strongly recommend this book it’s a very nice book. I love it so much.
Posted August 5, 2014
Posted November 18, 2012
Posted February 18, 2012
No text was provided for this review.