- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Who Threw That?
"I sure hope it flies!" cried six-year-old Benny as he jumped to his feet. "Do you think it will?"
"There's only one way to find out," said Henry who was fourteen. "Toss it in the air and see what happens."
It was a warm August afternoon and the four Alden children — Henry Jessie, Violet, and Benny — were in a little park on the edge of the town of Greenfield. They were making paper airplanes while their dog, Watch, dozed in the sun nearby.
"I guess you're right, Henry," said Benny. "There's only one way to find out." And he tossed his paper airplane into the air. "Look!" Benny began hopping up and down excitedly. "It's flying!"
"Way to go, Benny!" Ten-year-old Violet clapped her hands and cheered.
Jessie, who was twelve, gave her little brother a thumbs-up. "Great job, Benny!"
Watch, who was awake from his nap, went racing across the park. A moment later he came running back with Benny's airplane in his mouth. Wagging his tail, the dog dropped the airplane at Benny's feet.
"Thanks, Watch!" As Benny bent to pick it up, a frown crossed his round face. "Uh-oh."
"What is it, Benny?" Jessie asked.
"Watch chewed it up a bit," Benny told her. "I don't think it'll fly anymore."
"Never mind, Benny." Violet had folded a square sheet of purple paper into the shape of an airplane. Then she drew a rainbow pattern on the wings with her colored pencils. "You can have this one when I'm done," she offered. Violet was artistic and liked making beautiful things.
Sitting down again, Benny shook his head. "That's okay, Violet." He shoved the chewed-up airplane into his back pocket. "I can make another one in no time." And he reached for another sheet of paper.
"Just remember," said Jessie, who often acted like a mother to her younger brother and sister, "the important thing is to make sure the corners and the ends of the paper fit together when you make the folds."
Violet looked up and waved to Mrs. Spencer. Mrs. Spencer was a neighbor and a good friend of the Aldens. She lived across the street from the park, and today the children had helped her bring groceries home from the supermarket. Now she waved to them from her front porch.
"Why don't you come and get some lemonade before you go," she called.
"Oh, thank you, Mrs. Spencer," said Jessie, walking up the steps with her brothers and sister. "We could use something cold right now."
Mrs. Spencer poured lemonade into tall glasses. Then she sighed and smiled. "Watching you in the park cheers me up a bit. I remember my school days with my best friend, Milly Manchester. I used to pass her messages — on paper airplanes!"
"Really?" Benny stared wide-eyed. "Did you ever get caught?"
"Yes, I did," Mrs. Spencer replied as she made herself comfortable on a porch chair. "And the teacher made us stay after school. We had to write I will not throw paper airplanes in school a hundred times on the blackboard."
"Wow!" Benny's big eyes grew even rounder. "I bet that took a long time."
Henry, Jessie, and Violet laughed. They couldn't imagine Mrs. Spencer throwing paper airplanes. She was such a sweet lady, and it was hard to think of her getting into trouble at school.
"Have we ever told you about our old days, Mrs. Spencer?" Jessie asked. "When we lived in the boxcar?"
"Why, your grandfather told me. It sounds like quite an adventure!" said Mrs. Spencer.
After their parents died, the four Alden children had run away. For a while, their home was an old abandoned boxcar in the woods. But then their grandfather, James Alden, found them, and he brought his grandchildren to live with him in his big white house in Connecticut. Even the boxcar was given a special place in the backyard. The children often used it as a clubhouse.
"Did our grandfather tell you about Watch?" Benny wanted to know. "About how we found him when we were living in the boxcar?"
Jessie smiled. "Mrs. Spencer knows, Benny," she said. "And she knows how lucky we are to have Grandfather and Mrs. McGregor now, too." Mrs. McGregor was the Aldens' housekeeper and a wonderful cook.
"Speaking of Mrs. McGregor," said Benny, "it's almost time for —"
"Lunch," Violet finished for him.
This made everyone laugh. The youngest Alden was always thinking about food.
"Making paper airplanes gives me an appetite," Benny said with a grin.
"Everything gives you an appetite, Benny!" Henry teased.
The children thanked Mrs. Spencer for the lemonade and headed home with their paper airplanes. By the time they reached their own backyard, Violet had been quiet for a long time. She seemed lost in her own thoughts. Jessie could tell something was troubling her.
"Violet?" she asked. "Is anything wrong?"
"I was just thinking about Mrs. Spencer," Violet answered. "Did you notice anything different about her today?"
Jessie thought for a moment. "Well ... she did seem a bit distracted."
"I noticed that, too," said Henry.
Violet sighed. "She just wasn't her usual cheery self."
Just then, Watch flattened his ears and let out a whine. Henry looked up. "What is it, Watch?"
Their little dog tilted his head as if he were listening to something that no one else could hear. A moment later, he ran over to the back fence and began to bark.
"I wonder why Watch is acting so weird," said Benny.
Jessie pulled a dog biscuit from her back pocket. "Come here, Watch!" she shouted, waving the biscuit in the air.
At the sound of Jessie's voice, Watch came running. It wasn't long before his tail was wagging happily as he munched on his treat.
"Well, that did the trick," said Violet.
Benny nodded. "Food always does the trick for me, too."
"We get the hint, Benny." Henry laughed. "Let's have an airplane race, then you can get lunch."
On the count of three, they threw their paper airplanes into the air. Jessie's took a nosedive first, followed by Henry's, and then Violet's. Benny's airplane made it all the way to the fence, and the others let out a cheer.
"Looks like we have a champ!" said Henry.
Benny beamed. "I never thought I'd beat you in a race, Henry."
Henry smiled. "Size doesn't matter, Benny. Not when it comes to flying paper airplanes."
"Or finding clues," Benny reminded his brother. "Right?" The others nodded in agreement. The Aldens loved mysteries, and together they'd managed to solve quite a few.
As their dog came running over, Benny hurried off to get their airplanes. Henry knelt down and wrapped his arms around Watch's neck. "Better stay here, Watch," he said. "Airplanes won't fly if they're all chewed up."
A moment later, Benny came running back, shaking his head. He was still shaking his head when they sat cross-legged under the tree. "There's something I don't get," he said.
"What is it, Benny?" Jessie asked.
Benny looked around at them. "I thought there were four airplanes in the race."
"That's right," Henry replied. "Couldn't you find them all?"
"Oh, I found them all," Benny was quick to reply. Then he got a funny look on his face. "The problem is, I found too many!"
They all looked over at him in surprise. "What do you mean, Benny?" Violet asked.
Benny set the paper airplanes down, one at a time, on the grass while he counted aloud: "One ... two ... three ... four ... five!"
"That's weird," said Jessie. "How can there be five airplanes?"
"Well ..." Violet thought for a minute. "Benny did make two. Remember?"
"But I've still got the chewed-up one in my pocket," said Benny. And he pulled it out for Violet to see.
"Then one of those airplanes isn't ours," concluded Henry.
Jessie blinked. "How can that be?"
"Maybe Watch made one when we weren't looking," said Henry. He sounded serious, but there was a teasing twinkle in his eye.
Benny looked up at his older brother. "Watch is a smart dog, but not that smart!"
Jessie took a closer look at one of the airplanes. Carefully she unfolded it. As she flattened out the creases, her eyebrows suddenly shot up. "What in the world ...?" Her voice trailed off.
Violet moved closer to her sister. "What's wrong, Jessie?"
Jessie didn't answer right away. "It's the strangest thing," she said at last. "There's a ... a message on this airplane!"
Confused, the other Aldens looked at one another. What kind of message would be on a paper airplane that came from out of nowhere?CHAPTER 2
The Strange Message
Everyone stared wide-eyed at the message on the airplane. It was printed in thick black ink. "I can't believe it," Violet said in a hushed voice.
"Read it, Jessie," urged Benny.
Jessie tucked her dark hair behind her ears, then read the message out loud.
"In a bed of pansies,
A snapdragon lurks;
In the house of Spencer
A mystery perks."
"That sure is weird," remarked Henry. "I wonder who wrote it."
Jessie had an answer. "The Tattletale," she said, pointing to the paper. "At least, that's how he — or she — signed the message."
Benny looked confused. "What's a tattletale?"
"Somebody who tells secrets," explained Jessie.
"But you're not supposed to tell secrets," Benny said with a frown.
This made Jessie smile a little. Benny was famous for not keeping secrets. "Well, it's not very nice," she said, "if it's somebody else's secrets you're telling."
"But ... who is it?" Violet wondered. "Who's the Tattletale?"
Henry answered, "That's a good question."
"One thing's for sure," said Benny. "The Tattletale knows we're detectives."
Violet looked over at her younger brother. "Why do you say that, Benny?"
"Well, why else would a message about a mystery come flying into our yard?"
"Good point," said Violet.
"That's not all," Jessie put in. "He — or she — knows Mrs. Spencer, too."
Henry suddenly looked around. "Maybe the Tattletale is still close by." He put a finger to his lips, signaling for his brother and sisters to be quiet. "I'll check it out."
"We'll help you," volunteered Benny.
Henry jumped to his feet. So did everyone else. Without wasting another minute, the four Aldens and Watch took a long and careful look around the house and in the neighboring yards. Henry put his hand up to shade his eyes as he glanced up and down the street out front. The only person in sight was Mrs. Turner, who was driving away after visiting with Mrs. McGregor. But the children didn't think there was anything suspicious about Mrs. Turner. She worked at Cooke's Drugstore and was good friends with the Aldens' housekeeper.
"It's almost as if ..." Jessie stopped in midsentence.
"As if the message came from out of nowhere," finished Benny.
Violet looked around a little nervously. "It does seem that way."
But Henry wasn't having any of that. "We're just too late," he said. "Whoever threw that airplane took off."
As they sat down in the backyard again, Benny thought of something. "I bet that's why Watch was acting weird before."
"You're right," said Henry. "I bet Watch knew somebody was close by. We should've paid more attention."
After Jessie read the message aloud one more time, Violet said, "I wonder what it means about a snapdragon in a bed of pansies." It seemed very odd to her.
"There's no such thing as a dragon," stated Benny. He paused. "Is there?"
"No, there isn't," Jessie assured Benny. "But there is such a thing as a snapdragon."
Violet nodded. "A snapdragon's a flower with petals that look like a dragon's face, and —"
"Look at this!" Jessie broke in as something caught her eye. There was a bright pink snapdragon drawn on the other side of the airplane. She held it up for the others to see.
"Oh!" Violet put one hand over her mouth in surprise. "Whoever drew that picture is a wonderful artist," she said. Violet loved to draw and paint. And she was good at it, too.
Henry added up the clues. "The Tattletale is artistic and knows we're detectives. Plus, he — or she — knows Mrs. Spencer."
"It's not much to go on," Benny pointed out.
Henry scratched his head. "It's a mystery, that's for sure," he said. "And it's a mystery that landed right in our own backyard!"CHAPTER 3
A Mystery Perks
"The Aldens!" Mrs. Spencer looked surprised. She stood at the door, wiping her hands on an apron. Her snowy white hair was pulled back into a bun. "Back again! Did you forget something?"
Jessie shook her head. "We didn't forget anything, Mrs. Spencer," she said. "We just ... wanted to ask you about something."
"If you're not too busy," Violet quickly put in.
"Oh?" Mrs. Spencer looked around at them in surprise.
Jessie said, "This is going to sound a little weird, but —"
"A strange message landed in our backyard!" Benny blurted out before Jessie could finish her sentence.
Henry added, "On a paper airplane."
"A message on a ... a paper airplane?" The elderly woman looked startled. "I don't believe it." She went into the kitchen and sat down at a table. The Aldens joined her.
"I know it must sound very odd," admitted Violet. "I mean, you were just telling us about your school days, and how you passed messages on paper airplanes. But ... it really did happen."
"And we were wondering if it has anything to do with you, Mrs. Spencer." Jessie pulled the message from her pocket and passed it across the table.
"Another thing," added Benny. "Do you have any snapdragons in your garden, Mrs. Spencer?"
Mrs. Spencer caught her breath. "Any ... what?"
Benny's words seemed to frighten Mrs. Spencer, and she stared wide-eyed at him. Her eyes grew even bigger when she looked down and read the strange message.
Jessie glanced at Henry. There was no doubt about it. It was about Mrs. Spencer. The look in Henry's eye told her he was thinking the same thing.
"Do you have any idea who wrote that message, Mrs. Spencer?" Henry asked.
But their friend didn't answer.
"Mrs. Spencer?" Jessie asked again. "We were wondering if you knew who the Tattletale might be."
Mrs. Spencer still didn't answer. She seemed to be in a daze.
Violet rested a hand on Mrs. Spencer's arm. "If something's wrong," she said softly, "won't you let us help?" She hated to see their friend so upset.
"We're good detectives," Benny couldn't help adding.
"I have no idea who this Tattletale person is," Mrs. Spencer said at last. "How could anyone know about all the ... the strange things that have been happening? I haven't breathed a word of it to anyone." She shook her head in disbelief.
"Is it true, then?" Henry wanted to know. "Is there really a mystery?"
Looking pale and shaken, Mrs. Spencer nodded. "You won't be able to make any sense of it, though" she said. "After all, I can't make any sense of it, and I knew Milly Manchester all my life."
The children looked at one another in surprise. "Wasn't Milly your friend from school?" Jessie asked.
"Could you tell us more about her?" urged Henry.
"Oh, it happened such a long time ago," Mrs. Spencer told them, a faraway look in her eyes. "Milly and I were just young girls when we spotted that bright pink snapdragon."
The Aldens inched their chairs closer. They wanted to catch every word.
"You see, somehow it had managed to seed itself right in the middle of my mother's purple pansies." A slow smile spread across the elderly woman's face. "We laughed so hard. We thought that snapdragon was playing a great joke on those pansies, and Milly got out her sketch pad and drew a picture of it." Mrs. Spencer paused. "That was the day she decided to become an artist."
"Because of a snapdragon?" Benny found it hard to believe.
"It made Milly realize that anything's possible," said Mrs. Spencer, smiling over at Benny. "And she never forgot the reason she became an artist. Instead of signing her paintings, she put a bright pink snapdragon somewhere in each one. She said it was the only signature she needed."
Excerpted from The Tattletale Mystery by GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER, Hodges Soileau. Copyright © 2003 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 February 2, 2013
Posted December 28, 2012
Posted April 15, 2013
Posted January 13, 2012
Posted February 17, 2015
Posted May 28, 2014
Posted August 3, 2013
Posted April 1, 2012
No text was provided for this review.