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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: India (02/12/09)

TITLE: Think Outside the Book
By Virginia Gorg


“We have to write a report on India,” I signed to Mom as I walked into the kitchen after school.

Mom smiled and signed back, asking if I needed help in research. After all, Mom grew up in India as a missionary’s daughter.

“No, I think I can handle it myself. Can I have a snack?”

Mom pushed a plate of freshly baked cookies at me. Holding up two fingers, she indicated that’s all I was allowed to have. Smiling, I grabbed three before she could stop me and ran off to my room. I opened up the drape and gasped when I saw the dust particles flying around. Instead of starting on my homework, I rounded up the furniture polish and dusting cloth, getting to work. After an hour, I was satisfied with my room. The sun was still shining brightly and the dust particles were all gone.

Opening up my new laptop, I was instantly connected to the Internet via wireless. I clicked on my favorite search engine and begin looking for information on India. I came across an entry for India Ink and began to read. I was surprised to learn that India Ink had been used since the fourth century BC. “This isn’t what I’m looking for,” I said to my cat Patches. She was aptly named because she was covered in patches of black on her very white fur. As is normal for a cat, Patches twitched her ears at me and went back to basking in the sun.

Mom came in the room and asked if I had my homework done. I began signing as fast as I was talking. “No, I was going to write about India, the country, but I’ve found some fascinating stuff about India Ink. Do you know that India Ink was made from burned bones, tar, pitch, and some other stuff? Yuck!”

“Whoa,” Mom signed. “Aren’t you supposed to write about India, not ink?”

I sat back and squinted my eyes in thought. “Mr. Sanderson just said to write about India. He didn’t say the country.”

“Aren’t you studying history? And countries?”

“This is history class, but we’re not studying just countries. Last week, we learned about how diamonds are formed. Mr. Sanderson said we should think outside the book for this lesson. He likes it when we are creative.”

Mom nodded and signed again. “I remember you wrote that paper on Christmas Carols about a person named Christmas Carol. Didn’t you get a good grade on that?”

“I sure did – it was an A.” Mom and I looked at each other. It’s ironic that we look so much alike, with shoulder length brown hair and green eyes. We nodded at the same time. “I’ll write about ink, not the country. I’m willing to take a chance on this, too.”

Mom signed that Dad would be home at six o’clock and dinner would be shortly after. “Make sure you’re ready to eat when he gets home. He has some news to share with us.”

“Okay.” Turning back to my pink laptop, I continued to research and write. I added information about various uses of India Ink, including a game in Japan, tattoos, surgical procedures, and microbiology. In all, I found it a fascinating subject and lost track of time until I heard dad’s car in the driveway. Running a quick spell check, I then saved the document and printed it out for mom and dad to read.

“Hi, Dad, how was your day?” I stopped when I saw Dad’s serious expression.

“It was quite – challenging, shall I say. But management has made their decision. I’ve been laid off, for an undetermined amount of time.”

“Wow, no job? No paycheck?”

“I’ll be paid for the next three months as a severance package. I should be able to find a job by then.”

“What will we do? It’s almost summer.”

Mom signed something to Dad. “Perhaps you’re right,” he said. “We’ve talked about it for along time.”

I looked at them both as it slowly dawned on me. “We’re going to India as missionaries? Isn’t that what you’ve been wanting to do for a long time?”

“This is the right time,” Dad said.

“As long as I don’t have to write with India Ink, I’m all for it,” I said.

Dad looked at me quizzically, but Mom and I just laughed. Mom signed, “I’ll tell you later. Right now, dinner is ready.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/20/09
Clever and well-written.

I'm not sure why you had the characters signing, as deafness didn't seem to be significant to the plot. I kept waiting for it to tie in somehow, so it left me feeling puzzled.

I love the outside the box approach to the topic, which then ended up right there in the box after all! Cute.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge02/22/09
Original approach. I wasn't sure why a teenager with high standards of cleanliness had all that dust on the curtains to begin with...that threw me. Nice touches of humor with the Ink...
Folakemi Emem-Akpan02/23/09
Cute story, but how could she hear the car in the driveway if she's deaf?
Seema Bagai 02/23/09
A creative take on the topic.