Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write something suitable for CHILDREN (05/31/07)
TITLE: The Treasure on Page 724
By Jan Ackerson
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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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