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Dawn Bosco pulled out an ice cube tray. She banged it against the sink.
Ice cubes flew all over the counter.
She put one in her mouth.
She put another under her Polka Dot Private Eye hat.
"I can't stand it," she told her grandmother, around the ice cube. "It's too hot."
"You're right," said Noni. She fanned herself with her newspaper. She looked out the screen door. "Even Mr. Ott next door is going to the beach."
"Mr. Ott in a bathing suit?" said Dawn. "I can't picture him without his gray suit."
Noni laughed. "Or his fat yellow-striped tie."
Dawn spit out the ice cube. "Hey, that's it. We can go to the beach."
She stood up high on tiptoes. She stretched her arms out in front of her. "Perfect dive by Dawn Tiffanie Bosco."
"Hmmm," said Noni. She rattled her newspaper. Then she nodded. "I'll call Jason's mother. Jill Simon's too. I'll take everyone."
"Yahoo," Dawn yelled. She raced upstairs to her bedroom. She tossed everything out of her dresser.
Her purple-striped bathing suit was in the bottom drawer. It was still a little damp from Emily Arrow's pool the other day.
She fished around for her sunglasses with the mirror eyes.
She poked them on her nose.
They made everything so dark, she could hardly see. "Where am I?" she yelled.
Her cat, Powder Puff, looked up and yawned.
Dawn looked around. What else did she need?
She pulled her Polka Dot Private Eye box out from under her bed.
She blew off the dust.
Maybe she could solve a mystery today.
She stuck her pink bottle of No Sunburn, No Kidding in the box last.
"See you later, Powder Puff," she yelled. "Sorry. No cats allowed at the beach."
She slid down the banister and ran out the door.
Noni was waiting in the car.
She was wearing a big straw hat with an orange flower.
A piece of cardboard was taped to her nose.
Noni hated to get sunburned.
Dawn opened the door. It was a terrible car.
Two fenders were dented. A window was cracked.
It didn't have air conditioning. Not one bit.
"It's as hot as a firecracker!" Dawn said. She slid into the front seat.
"I don't care," said Jason from the back. "All I care about is getting in the water."
Dawn turned around and grinned. "You got here fast."
"In about two minutes," said Jill. She was sitting next to Jason.
Jill had red bows on her four braids.
Two in front, two in back.
Her face was red from the heat.
She looks like a tomato, Dawn thought. A nice red one.
Jill was a great friend.
She was a terrible detective, though.
So was Jason.
"Let's get going," said Noni.
The car rolled down the street.
It rolled slowly.
Dawn's bike could go almost as fast.
"Safe and sound," Noni always said.
"Hurry," Dawn said. "Please." She had to sit with her detective box on her lap.
It was big and square. It was heavy too.
It was filled with great things.
A pair of snap-on handcuffs.
Two fake eyebrows and a furry mustache.
A Polka Dot Private Eye book.
"I'm going to look for a mystery today," Dawn said. She crossed her fingers. "I hope I find one."
Jill leaned forward. "I'm going to look for things in the sand," she said. "Old coins and stuff."
"Hey. Me too," said Dawn. "That's as good as a mystery."
Jill tossed her braids back. "Can I use your—"
Dawn drew in her breath. "Hey." She grabbed Noni's arm. "Hold your horses."
Noni put on the brakes.
Her hat sailed off her head.
"You make me nervous," she told Dawn.
"I forgot something," Dawn said.
"Oh, no," said Jill. "Not the—"
"Yes," said Dawn. "The—"
"I knew it," said Jason. "I'll never get in the water."
Noni backed the car down the street.
They went from one side to the other.
They stopped at Dawn's driveway.
Dawn raced out of the car and into the house.
"Out of my way, please," she shouted to Powder Puff.
She looked under her bed.
She looked behind the curtains ... and then in the closet.
There it was.
She yanked it out from behind her dollhouse.
It was a long pole with a box on one end.
MARVELOUS METAL FINDER, it said.
It was Noni's old one.
Noni said she was sick of looking for marvelous metal things.
She said she'd rather do her crossword puzzle.
Dawn grabbed the finder. It was perfect for finding pirate coins. Money too.
It was perfect for solving a mystery.CHAPTER 2
"Look at that water," Dawn said from the boardwalk.
"Look at that sand," said Jason.
"It's a good thing this beach isn't big," said Noni. "I can't walk far in these sandals."
They plodded down the boardwalk steps.
Jason carried a doughnut tube over one arm.
Jill pulled the Marvelous Metal Finder.
Dawn dragged her detective box behind her.
Last came Noni. She tried to keep her straw hat on with one hand.
They looked for a space for their blanket.
The beach was crowded.
Radios were blaring.
People were getting suntans.
"Not too far from the boardwalk," Noni said. "I like to listen to the merry-go- round music."
She spread out their blanket near some teenagers. She plunked down the picnic basket.
One of the teenagers smiled at Dawn.
She had short dark hair and a million freckles.
Dawn smiled back. Then she kicked off her flip-flops. "Last one in the water is a french-fried frog," she yelled.
Jill hopped on the sand. She yanked off one sneaker and tossed it back on the blanket.
She threw off the other one.
"Let me at that water," she yelled.
Jason was blowing up his doughnut tube.
His cheeks looked like purple balloons.
Dawn didn't wait. She ran on tiptoes.
The sand was hot.
"Oooch. Ouch," she yelled.
Noni was yelling too. "You forgot your sunscreen," she said. "Come back."
Dawn stopped on one foot.
"Put it on," said Noni. "You'll be a wrinkled prune by the time you're sixteen."
Dawn ran back to the blanket. She opened her Polka Dot Private Eye box.
She pulled out the fat plastic jar and unscrewed the top.
Then she reached in with four fingers for a big dab of No Sunburn, No Kidding.
At the same time she watched the teenagers on the next blanket.
There were four of them. Two boys, two girls.
In the middle was the freckled-faced girl.
Next to her was a boy with a radio on his shoulder. He was jerking his head back and forth to the music.
Jason stopped blowing up the doughnut. "He looks like a chicken, doesn't he?"
"Look at the other boy," said Dawn. "The one with hair down to his shoulders."
"Hmpf," said Noni. She liked boys with short hair.
"The blond girl looks cool," said Jason. "Just like a movie star."
Dawn nodded. The girl was wearing a gorgeous silver bathing suit. She had on a sparkly diamond necklace.
She was putting oil on her face, not sunscreen.
Too bad, thought Dawn. She'd be a wrinkled prune any day now.
The blond girl picked up some sand.
She tossed a little on the boy's long hair.
Then she started to run.
"Yeow," she yelled as her feet hit the sand.
Long Hair chased after her.
"Yeow," he yelled too.
He grabbed for the girl as she reached Dawn's blanket.
She twisted away from him.
She landed on top of Dawn.
"Oof," she said.
"Oof," Dawn said too.
Sand sprayed up in the air.
Noni's hat flew off her head.
The No Sunburn jar dropped back into the detective box.
The girl scrambled up. "Sorry," she yelled.
She hopped across the sand toward a little boy. A kindergarten boy, Dawn thought.
About forty-nine toys were piled up on his blanket.
His mother was scrunched up in the middle. She was reading a book.
The boy was building a sand hill.
It was almost as big as he was.
The girl's foot smashed into it.
The boy began to roar. He picked up his shovel and threw it at her.
The girl leapt away from him.
On the next blanket a man was sitting behind his newspaper.
The girl bumped into his beach chair.
She waved at him, then bounced up the steps to the boardwalk.
"Well!" Noni told Dawn. "I hope you have better manners."
Dawn hopped up. "I do, I do."
She slammed down the cover of her detective box. She raced across the sand and dived into the water.
It was cool, salty, wonderful.
Behind her came the kindergarten kid and his mother.
She was still reading. She was holding the book up in the air.
The book was getting wet anyway.
The boy looked at Dawn. He pulled back his arm. Then he splashed her as hard as he could.
"Arno," said the mother without looking at him, "I don't think that was very friendly."
Dawn scrunched up her nose. She'd like to give Arno a quick punch.
Dawn looked around for Jill and Jason.
One of Jill's bows was floating on the water.
Jill was floating too.
Jason was swimming in the doughnut tube. "Great," he yelled.
Dawn lay on her back. She kicked her feet. "I love to float," she said. "I learned it at camp."
She closed her eyes. If only she had a mystery to solve.
Then she thought she heard something. "Is someone yelling?" she began, and got a mouthful of water.
"Everyone's yelling," Jill said.
Dawn kicked once more. Then she stood up to see what was happening.
On the boardwalk, the merry-go-round was going around.
In front was the sand and umbrellas and people sitting on blankets.
She could see Noni bent over her crossword puzzle ... and the teenagers standing near her.
The girl with the long blond hair was standing on her blanket.
And she was screaming as loud as she could.CHAPTER 3
Dawn rode in on a wave.
She scrambled up on the sand.
The girl was still screaming.
She waved her arms around.
Even Noni looked up from her crossword puzzle to watch.
Dawn shook the water out of her hair. She raced for the blanket.
"Wait for me," yelled Jill.
Dawn didn't stop. She had to see what was going on.
Besides, poor Jill wouldn't be any help at all.
"It's gone," the girl said. She was wringing her hands. "My almost-diamond necklace with the two almost-ruby hearts."
The chicken-head boy with the radio clicked his teeth.
"It must have fallen off," said the freckle-faced girl.
"We'll look all over the place," Long Hair said. "We'll dig in the sand around the blanket."
The blond girl shook her head. "I bet someone picked it up. That makes someone a thief." She opened her mouth. "Help. Someone's a thief."
The other teenagers shook their heads. They searched through the blanket.
They scooped up the sand around them. Dawn crept closer.
"Help," the girl yelled again.
"I'll help," said Dawn.
The girl stopped screaming. "You're just a little kid."
Dawn drew herself up. "I'm the Polka Dot Private Eye. I've solved at least eight cases."
"Seven," said Jill from behind her.
"Six," said Jason.
"Anyway," said Dawn, "I'm ready to solve this one too."
She reached for her Polka Dot Private Eye hat. "Tell me the clues."
"No clues. Not one," said the girl. "I had it on the blanket. I didn't have it on the boardwalk." She opened her mouth wide. "Thieeeeef."
"What's your name?" Dawn asked.
"Mindy Merrill," said the girl. "I made it up myself. I want to be an actress."
Dawn frowned. "But what's your real name?"
The girl frowned too. She opened her mouth. "Glad—"
Just then someone else started to scream. Someone up on the boardwalk.
"Gladys Gump," yelled a boy with brown hair and glasses, "if you don't get home right this minute, Mom's going to kill you."
"My brother," said the girl. "I have to go home."
She looked around one last time. "It's a great necklace," she said. "The rubies shine in the dark."
"Did you hear me?" the boy shouted. "Time to go home."
The girl shook out her shoes.
She put on a blue flowered hat.
"There's a reward," she said.
"How much?" asked Dawn and Jason together.
The girl raised one shoulder. "A quarter, I guess."
"I think I'm going to look for pirate coins instead," said Jill.
"Now," yelled the boy. "I'm going without you."
"My brother has no patience." She looked at Dawn. "Try to find the thief."
Dawn nodded. "I'll look for coins later." She shook her head. "How about your address?"
"One twelve-thirty-two ... Never mind. I'll be back tomorrow." The girl hopped over Noni's red plaid blanket.
She stepped in front of the man's newspaper.
She made a wide circle around the kindergarten kid.
He threw another shovel at her anyway.
Then she disappeared up on the boardwalk.
"Terrific," said Dawn. "We've got a mystery."
"Not so terrific," said Noni. "She got sand all over my crossword puzzle."
Dawn put on her sunglasses with the mirror eyes. She didn't want anyone to see her watching.
Then she looked around.
The man was still reading his newspaper.
Long Hair and Freckle Face were digging around in the sand.
Chicken Head was clucking in time to his radio.
"Someone here is probably a thief," Dawn said. "And we're going to catch him. Or her."
Jill Simon shivered. She clapped her hands over her look-like-real pearl necklace.
"I think I know what we should do next," she said.
Dawn looked up.
"Eat lunch," said Jill. "I'm starved."CHAPTER 4
Dawn ate her egg-salad sandwich on rye bread. "Nice and crunchy," she said.
"That's sand." Noni smiled. "It's all over you."
"I don't mind." Dawn reached for a peach.
Then she sat back and tried to think.
How could she solve the mystery of the almost-diamond necklace?
She could see Jason was thinking too.
"I bet it's the man with the newspaper," he said. "He kept hiding behind it."
"He probably didn't want to get sunburned," said Noni. "Or maybe he wanted some peace and quiet too."
"Maybe," said Jason. "I'm going to keep an eye on him anyway."
Jill nodded. Her mouth was filled with a chocolate-chip cookie.
She had two more cookies in each hand.
"I gluf fo fem," she said.
"I think she's saying she loves to eat," said Jason.
Jill shook her head.
"What are you saying?" Dawn asked.
"Wait till she finishes," said Noni. "Better manners that way."
Dawn looked up at the sky. "Who could have stolen it?"
"I don't nof," said Jill.
"Me neither." Dawn sat up straight. "Wait a minute. I do know."
"I almost know." Dawn nodded to herself. "Now, listen. Mindy was wearing the necklace on the blanket. It was gone when she got to the boardwalk. Right?"
"Right," said Jason.
Dawn narrowed her eyes. "It had to be someone in between."
She raised her fingers in the air. "Suspects," she said. "First: the man with the newspaper."
"Told you," said Jason.
Dawn nodded. "Or maybe one of the other teenagers."
Jill swallowed. "I'm trying to say that maybe—"
"That chicken-head kid looks like a thief if I ever saw one," Dawn said.
"What about that little kid?" Jason asked.
"Yes," Dawn said. "That bratty kindergarten kid, Arno."
Jill stood up. "I'm glad you didn't say us."
Dawn sighed. "Of course I didn't."
"Just joking." Jill reached for the Marvelous Metal Finder. "Anyway, I was going to say that the necklace may just be lost."
"Not stolen?" Dawn said. "Don't be silly."
Jill raised one shoulder. "I'm going to look anyway. I'm going to look for coins too."
She swept across the sand with the finder.
"It works." Jill sifted through the sand and pulled out a penny.
"Great," said Noni. "It's a 1962 penny. That was a year that John Kennedy was president."
Dawn looked at the Marvelous Metal Finder. "Keep looking. Maybe you'll find the necklace." She leaned over the blanket.
"There's something I have to do right away."
Jason leaned forward. "What?"
"I'm going to lock my Polka Dot Private Eye box. No thief is going to get my good stuff."
She tapped Noni's knee.
Noni reached into her pocket. She pulled out a pink heart lock and a silver key.
Dawn snapped the lock on the private eye box. She piled the lunch box on top of it ... and her flip-flops ... and her wet pink towel.
"Hey," said Jill. "A nail."
"Hey," said Jason at the same time. "There goes the man with the newspaper."
Dawn didn't stop to look. "Follow that man," she yelled.
They scrambled up and started to run.
Dawn glanced down at the man's blanket.
Nothing was on it, though.
Excerpted from The Trail of the Screaming Teenager by Patricia Reilly Giff, Blanche Sims. Copyright © 1990 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 January 4, 2013
Posted January 18, 2013