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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something suitable for CHILDREN (05/31/07)

TITLE: The Treasure on Page 724
By Jan Ackerson


Maggie was a girl who lived in a story. Most days she passed the time idly, waiting for someone to read about her (just as you’re doing, right now. Maggie! Stop tapping your foot—brush your hair—you’ve got a reader!).

Maggie hopped off her comfy chair and brushed her hair. It was time for school. She loved school, because when Mrs. Poindexter said “Reading time!” Maggie could snuggle in the beanbag and read the huge dictionary. It was almost as big as she was, but Maggie didn’t care. She simply loved words.

Maggie was struggling with the heavy book, just about to nestle into the beanbag, when she noticed something. (Reader, are you laughing at her? You should know that lots of very smart people read the dictionary. Try it sometime. Maggie, don’t worry about it. Just carry on.)

Kicking off her sneakers, Maggie carried on. She turned to page 724—QUICK to QUINTET—and began to read. Always considerate, Maggie whispered so as not to disturb her classmates. “Might as well make a sandwich,” she said. “There’s twenty minutes of quiet reading now.”

(Yes, reader, she was talking to you. Go ahead, get a sandwich. If you finish it, you may have a cookie, too.)

Running her finger down the list of words, Maggie silently formed each one with her mouth. She imagined she was tasting every word, and they were as delicious as oatmeal cookies. With no raisins—Maggie hated raisins.

(Oh, you hate them too? Do you find them abominable? Loathsome? Repellant? Odious? You would, if you read your dictionary. Right, Maggie?)

With a nod, Maggie savored QUIETUS, QUIFF, QUINCE, QUINK, and QUINOA. What wonderful words! But all too soon, Mrs. Poindexter was calling. “Books away, students!” Maggie closed the dictionary with an oof, picked up her sneakers, and returned to her desk for Socail Studies.

(Every time this story gets read, Maggie hopes the spelling error in the previous sentence has been fixed. Sorry, Maggie, not this time.)

Mrs. Poindexter’s fluffy white hair framed her jolly face, and she clapped her hands with a smile. “Children, I’m going to tell you a mystery today—a true mystery about this very town. Isn’t that exciting?”

Maggie liked Mrs. Poindexter, but she wished her teacher wouldn’t speak to the class as if they were kindergartners. (You thought the same thing, didn’t you?) Nevertheless, a true mystery sounded interesting, so she listened closely as Mrs. Poindexter began.

(Reader, pay attention. Will you be the first to solve the mystery before Maggie does? Look, she’s shaking her head—this is her favorite part. Mrs. Poindexter is a very good storyteller.)

“Boys and girls, this town was built in 1886 by Roland Pfledderer. Now, Mr. Pfledderer was a very rich man, and after he had built the Pfledderer town hall, and the Pfledderer library, and the Pfledderer market, and the Pfledderer post office, and all the other buildings and houses in our town, he buried the rest of his wealth…somewhere. He left one clue, carved into the cornerstone of the Pfledderer library, and he stated in his will that anyone who solved the clue and found the money could have it.”

(I’ll bet you’re thinking—what’s the clue?)

“What’s the clue?” asked Maggie, leaning forward on her elbows.

Mrs. Poindexter’s voice got very quiet. “Look for yourselves, boys and girls, next time you’re at the library. It’s just some letters and dashes—and it looks like this.” She turned and wrote on the board:

Q -- -- -- C -- -- X.

(No fair running to the dictionary! If you had read it every day, like Maggie does, you would already know the answer. Maggie—it’s time. Do your thing!)

Maggie’s mind whirled. QUILLY, QUINARY…QUINCUNX! Quincunx—four points on the outside of a square, and one point in the middle. The town hall, library, market, and post office made a large square, and right in the middle was…

“I know where the treasure is,” she declared, and she led the class to the courtyard, where a spiral of old stones tapered to a point. She extended one finger toward the smallest stone, in the center of the design. “It’s under there!”

(Maggie realizes you never would have thought of that. Don’t feel bad.)

With her treasure, Maggie bought a dictionary for everyone who reads her story. You can have one, too. Just go ask your mom or dad to pick it up for you, and don’t forget to say “please.”

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This article has been read 1423 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Persson06/07/07
This is AWESOME!
Dee Yoder 06/07/07
Absolutely delightful! Wow, layer upon layer of cool things for a child to do while reading this story. I love the interaction between the main character and the child reading the story and the narrator...neat!
Seema Bagai 06/08/07
Creative and clever. Great job.
Joanne Sher 06/08/07
Absolutely delightful - this would be an amazingly fun read for any child. I LOVE the interaction between Maggie, the reader, and the narrator. Completely wonderful.
Leigh MacKelvey06/08/07
Of course! Yet another creative story no one else in the world would have thought of! You always do an awesome job, every genre, every challenge. It gets boring.
( ust teasing!)This was just too, too clever! Every line added to the overall delight! I knew right away you hadn't made a spelling error. That would just never happen!
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/08/07
How delightfully fun!
Mo 06/10/07
Very good!!
Ann Grover06/11/07
Brilliant and clever, as always.... Very original idea. (glad I didn't have to point out that spelling error, either, thought you'd be kicking yourself over it...) I can see the illustrations to go along with this.
Sandra Petersen 06/11/07
An excellent title! Kids would enjoy the way you broke from Maggie's story to talk directly to them, then went back to the story. I wonder if children will be encouraged to look at their dictionaries a little more. I could see this incorporated into a language arts lesson, perhaps the first one teaching how to use a dictionary.

This is almost like a story inside a story, like one of those painting with a mirror image within a mirror image. Neat!
Sheri Gordon06/11/07
Truly amazing! You are so creative, and a great story teller. This would be one of my favorite children's books -- as an adult. A story I wouldn't mind reading over and over. You have got to try to get this published -- it's awesome. :)
Betty Castleberry06/11/07
Okay, girl. You get it. Top prize, at least from me. I've nothing else to say.
Myrna Noyes06/11/07
What a cute and oh-so-clever story! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I know children would, too! You are such an imaginative writer--a true Master!! :) Excellent writing!
Rita Garcia06/11/07
Fun and delightful! Loved the little side-bars, "(Yes, reader, she was talking to you. Go ahead, get a sandwich. If you finish it, you may have a cookie, too.)"
Great way to pull a young reader right into a story! I would love to see a series of books about young Maggie!
Chrissi Dunn06/11/07
Brilliant! It was such a unique idea to actively involve the reader in Maggie's world. Kids would love that! Such a good plot too - It paid off to be the 'dictionary kid'! And all in 750 words.....
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/11/07
Children would love the interaction and the sly sarcasm in this wonderful story, just as I did!
Kristen Hester06/12/07
This is so much fun. I love how the narrator talks to the reader. CS Lewis does this a bit in The Choronicles of Narnia and I always thought it was so neat. Very creative and captivating.
TJ Nickel06/12/07
Can you draw too? If so, make this the first part of a project.
Loren T. Lowery06/13/07
This is just the kind of story that gave me a love for reading. Captures the imagination and lets us run with the thoughts of the adventures ahead.
Jacquelyn Horne06/13/07
A fun way to get children to read the dictionary.
Pat Guy 06/13/07
I would love to hear this read out loud. And I would love to watch the children as they listened. :)

What fun! Oooo ... I wanted to figure it out too!

I think we enjoyed this as much as the children will!

Sara Harricharan 06/14/07
This is worth the weight of creativity in gold! I loved the character of Maggie and this was quite fun to read with a 'double narration'. A keeper for sure! ^_^