Move over, Sherlock Holmes; girl detective Amanda Dagger is on her first case. Using brilliant logic and powerful observation, Amanda sets out to find a friend's scrimshaw medallion, which has mysteriously disappeared. She teams up with Freddy Dash, the class clown and detention pro, and the friends uncover more than they bargain for. Shattered glass, a runaway truck, and a near drowning leave the young sleuths wondering why someone is trying to scare them away from the medallion- and from uncovering the truth.
Amanda and Freddy have a common interest in history, which leads them to a notable local landmark, the Old Stone House. Joined by Freddy's tagalong brother Todd and their quirky classmate Brook Winter, the group decides to make it their summer hangout. But strange things seem to be happening on the grounds of the home. Once owned by wealthy ivory merchants, the eerie house has a disturbing past. When Todd is dragged violently underwater while swimming nearby, and a delivery truck nearly collides with the friends, Amanda realizes someone is sending them a message: keep away.
Determined to find the medallion, Amanda and Freddy search the house and discover priceless ivory relics have been stolen. Amanda must learn to trust her instincts to uncover the horrible secrets hidden inside these stone walls-and discover what might soon turn a thief into a killer.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.36(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 11 Years|
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Dagger and DashThe Scrimshaw Medallion
By Peggy Schaedler
abbott pressCopyright © 2012 Peggy Schaedler
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Good Catch
I, Freddy Dash, was supposed to be solving a word problem in math class, but instead I was staring out the classroom window and daydreaming about my three favorite things—swimming, biking and playing baseball. I heard the teacher clear her throat as she sat at her desk correcting papers, and that reminded me I should be concentrating on my work. Jeff has &frac;12 pizza left in the fridge. At breakfast he ate 1/3 of it. What fraction of the original pizza does he have left for lunch? Huh? First of all, in my family we never have any pizza left at all, let alone half. Secondly, I don't know who this Jeff guy is, but why was he eating pizza for breakfast anyway? My mom would never let me do that. I scowled and began doodling a baseball diamond at the top of the paper. I wasn't very good at math. The only way to get through this class, I decided, was to daydream, and once again I found myself in the middle of my favorite.
I was coming up to bat in the championship game, my team, the Riverbend Ravens, against our rivals, the Shipley Schooners. I could hear the play-by-play announcer's call running through my head. And we go to the top of the second. It will be the dangerous Freddy Dash approaching the box as the Riverbend Ravens try to draw even with the Shipley Schooners who are up two to nothing. Runners at first and second. Dash leads the Ravens in base hits and home runs, and now here he comes—Dash, a lefty with an open stance, points the bat out towards the pitcher, Dash stares out at him, and dangles the bat over his left shoulder as the crowd grows silent ... Here's the first pitch—Dash swings—and it's a hard drive deep into right field. Ladies and gentlemen—we have lift off! That ball is gone! The crowd is on their feet chanting Fred-dy, Fred-dy, Fred-dy!
"Freddy!" I was snapped back to reality as my classmate and longtime friend Brook Winter hissed my name and, for maximum effect, poked me in the back with her pencil. She sat directly behind me and made it her mission to keep me focused on math instead of baseball.
"That thing hurts," I complained, turning around in my seat and glaring at the jabbing weapon.
"Pay attention," she whispered, nodding ahead just as our teacher, Miss Sweet, approached the front of the class.
"We will now correct the answers to the word problems." She read each problem one by one, taking deep raspy breaths between sentences. We were to correct our own papers by writing large C's next to the right answers and large X's next to the wrong ones. Just before Miss Sweet came to the pizza question, I guessed 1/3 and wrote it on the line. Maybe I was catching on or it was just plain luck, but I gave myself a happy "C" next to the number when she announced the correct answer. We turned our papers in to Miss Sweet who mopped her brow with a tissue and continued.
"I have good news and bad news," she declared as she passed out a sheet of instructions to each of the row captains sitting in front of her. It was the next to the last day of school in June. In just 24 hours, the school bell would ring and I would finally be free. My summer vacation was a day away, and I couldn't seem to think about anything other than walking out the front door. But before that happened I would learn that the good news wasn't so great, and the bad news was really bad.
"The good news is that you will officially become sixth graders at the close of school tomorrow ..." I could feel the tension in the air as students shifted uncomfortably in their seats and braced themselves for the inevitable. "And your sixth grade language arts teacher has a summer writing assignment that will be due on the first day of school in the fall. I dare say most of you need the mental exercise throughout the summer in light of your final averages."
That was the good news? She had to be kidding. Homework? Scarier than zombies crawling through your window at night. More disgusting than a can of cold creamed corn mixed with chocolate pudding. And more miserable than having a bad case of the flu on the night of your biggest ball game ever—the allstar championship. The only thing worse than homework was homework over the summer. In less than a day, school ended, summer vacation started, and I would be biking to Legion Field to play my first All-Star Baseball League game against the Schooners, and I didn't plan on spending one minute at my desk writing anything. Besides, what kind of a teacher assigns homework even before meeting the students? I vowed to hide the instructions in my backpack and pretend I never saw them.
"The bad news is," Miss Sweet continued, "I'll be sending these journal instructions home to your parents so they may monitor your progress." She sniffed triumphantly, adjusted her glasses and folded her large arms across her chest.
Oh, c'mon! There was no way I could get outta this one. I looked down at the sheet and read "Dear sixth grader, My name is Mrs. Fable. I will be your language arts teacher in the fall. Over the summer I would like you to keep a journal recounting your experiences. It's important to continue your reading and writing throughout the summer so you don't lose ground come September. Please choose a partner with whom to write as if you were blogging and note additional requirements below. The journal will be due on the first day of school and will count as your first test grade. I look forward to reading about your summer and meeting you in person. See you then, yours truly, Mrs. Fable." I exhaled loudly and slapped the paper down on my desk. I had never kept a journal in my life, and wasn't about to start now, but then I met Amanda Dagger.
Now that I think about it, I feel like we've known each other forever, but actually, we met that very day, at the end of our fifth grade year and just finishing up at Riverbend Elementary School. Our school was small so I pretty much knew everything about Riverbend Elementary—the teachers, the custodians and even the little hiding spots to duck into if you didn't want to be seen. The following year, I would begin sixth grade in middle school. Moving up was scary. I liked being the senior of the school. Next year I would be the new kid—the runt, like being in kindergarten all over again.
Actually, the entire town of Riverbend is small. Like the school, The town is located on the banks of the Connecticut River, and it's the type of place where everyone knows each other. When I ride my bike down Main Street, the store owners wave and call me by name. In less than an hour, I can ride from one end of town to the other. That's how small it is, and I've known every kid in my school for years. So when Amanda showed up, it took me by surprise.
It was one of the hottest days of the year. So hot that if you moved your big toe even one inch, sweat poured down your back like a hot salty shower. My classes were on the second floor of an old brick school building. It was built way back in the fifties when no one considered air conditioning or New England weather when they designed a place for kids who would have to sit for eight hours a day during the hottest time of the school year. As the heat rose from the first floor to the second, the temperature increased dramatically, and by the end of the day we were all ready to pass out from heat exhaustion.
Miss Sweet was not only my math teacher but also my homeroom teacher so I saw a lot of her. Her name was funny because it didn't describe her at all. She was far from sweet. She was the meanest teacher in the school, and no one wanted to get on her bad side, which I had already managed to do from the day I set foot in her classroom. Miss Sweet had thin grey hair that framed her round face in spidery wisps. Her narrow silver glasses tipped slightly to the left on the bridge of her nose, and her lips were pressed tightly together in a straight line as if she were preparing to blow a bubble from a large wad of gum. She wasn't a tall woman but she had the ability to stare you down, and when her eyes were fixed upon me, I felt myself shrinking back to the size of a first grader.
"I am aware that the bell will ring in 30 minutes," Miss Sweet continued in a reedy voice as she handed out thick packets of worksheets to each student sitting in the front row. "Please put away your summer reading instructions and give your attention to the front of the class. Row captains, please pass these packets on fractions to the student behind you. Complete the packet by the end of the period before you go to lunch. Anyone who does not complete the equations will have to stay in for recess tomorrow to get extra help—even if it is the last day of school."
What teacher in her right mind would hand out math packets on the next to the last day? I glared at Miss Sweet and then turned around to hand back the thick pile of papers. Miss Sweet was close to retirement. She hinted each year that it would be her last, but then she returned in the fall, much to the dismay of the faculty and the horror of the new fifth grade.
While I scratched away with a stubby pencil and tried to figure out one-third times three-fifths, I glanced out into the hall and caught a glimpse of Mr. Really, the guidance counselor. His name was actually Mr. Riley, but I always called him Mr. Really because every time you tried to talk to him about something important in your life, he would say, "Really!" very seriously as if you just told him you were sentenced to life in prison. There he was, walking down the hallway with a girl, who, I assumed, was a new student, as I'd never seen her before. Mr. Really was talking with her father explaining the reading program and how our test scores were higher than any town in the area. The father nodded approvingly. The girl looked around, nervously clinging to her notebook. She glanced in my direction and caught my eye. I waved awkwardly. Brook Winter, who had been scribbling away on her worksheet, also looked up. She waved at the new girl too. Their tour apparently had stalled briefly. I saw Mr. Really pull out a long sheet of numbers and begin circling several columns as the father patiently looked on, listening intently. The new girl sidestepped to the door of our classroom to take a peek. That's when I had a really great idea. In a flash of inspiration, I scribbled My name's Freddy Dash, what's your name? on a piece of scrap paper, folded it up into a ball, and tossed it out the door. Brook giggled behind me and poked me in the back with her pencil again.
"Nice move," she whispered. I thought so too, but sometimes my great ideas take a turn for the worse.
The hallway girl scooped up the ball, unfolded it and after reading it quickly, tore a piece of paper from her notebook, grabbed a pen from the pocket of her jeans, and jotted something down. Right at that moment, Miss Sweet decided to interrupt the class.
"Excuse me! Did I say anyone could talk? Francis? What's the problem?" I heard snickers from the other kids, especially Adeline Stickle, who sat on the opposite side of the room. Adeline was the school bully. She was an instigator—the type of kid who shoots spitballs from a straw across the room when the teacher's back is turned, but never gets caught. The type of kid who trips someone in the hallway and then laughs when he falls, spilling his papers all over the floor which, by the way, has happened to me on several occasions. She chuckled to herself now, and Miss Sweet repeated, "Francis?" No one ever calls me Francis. My name is Freddy. Even my parents didn't call me Francis. Most people didn't even know that was my name. No one except Miss Sweet.
"Francis, did you hear me?"
"Yes, Miss Sweet."
"Well, it's polite to make eye contact when you're talking to an adult. Now, are you having a problem with your work?" She raised her voice slightly higher than normal and spoke crisply. I glanced toward the door. The girl and her father were gone.
"Is there something going on in the hall, Francis?" I leaned back in my chair to see if she'd gone into the classroom next door. I even tipped the chair back so I could see around the corner, which was a big no-no in Miss Sweet's class. The year before, Quinn Avery, a kid I had known since kindergarten, tipped his chair back and lost his balance. The problem was his chair was attached to his desk so when he leaned back, over went the chair, the desk, his books, and Quinn Avery, who hit his head on the desk behind. He landed on the floor with blood spilling everywhere and ended up getting five stitches at the emergency room. I leaned back a little farther.
"Francis!" Miss Sweet scowled and began to get up from her chair. For the third time Brook poked me in the back. This time, I swung around and whispered, "What?" I was annoyed at being distracted. Brook, wide eyed, nodded to the front. I turned around just in time to see Miss Sweet towering over me. My chair touched down with a loud thump. And then I did what no student should ever do, especially when someone like Miss Sweet is staring down at you so hard she could turn you to stone. I started laughing. I don't even know why. Maybe it was the look on Brook's face, her big bulgy eyes wide with fright, or maybe it was the sweltering heat, which made me lose my mind. Whatever the cause, I began laughing like crazy, which by the way, made everyone else laugh too. Within a matter of seconds, the whole class burst into raucous laughter. I even heard Brook chuckling softly behind me. Miss Sweet straightened up and squared her shoulders.
"STOP THIS RACKET AT ONCE!" she screamed above the din. Her face grew red and her glasses slipped down her shiny nose. The laughter continued. She turned briskly toward the blackboard and as soon as she picked up her chalk, the laughter faded into a few giggles and then abruptly stopped as she wrote the first student's name on the board. We all knew what that meant. If your name was on the board, you had to report to the principal's office at the end of class. We froze in our seats. The room, just a few moments before alive with laughter, was now silent except for the sound of scratchy chalk moving slowly across the board and spelling out in white bold letters FRANCIS. I noticed Adeline Stickle smirking in the corner.
Miss Sweet turned around with a victorious grin on her face. I looked at the clock. When the bell rang in five minutes, I would report to the Grim Reaper. The ultimate student punishment machine. The second meanest woman on earth. (Miss Sweet being the first), our principal, Mrs. Roper. I slid down in my chair and groaned inwardly to myself. Miss Sweet plopped ceremoniously down at her desk and hummed as she organized her paper clips. Every so often, she glanced in my direction, and resumed humming. The other students went quickly back to work, each afraid of a name being added to the list. At twelve o'clock, the bell rang, but no one moved. Miss Sweet stood up and approached the door, barring anyone from leaving the room without permission. Students were not allowed out of their seats until Miss Sweet dismissed them.
"Francis, you may report to Mrs. Roper. I will call down to the office after I dismiss the class so she will be expecting you." I stood up and gathered my papers from my desk. Just then, as if in slow motion, I turned my head toward the door just in time to see a small, crinkled ball of paper come sailing through the air. Miss Sweet and I reached to catch it at the exact same time, but I was an outfielder and good at catching pop flies so I stretched my arm out just a little further and snatched it.
"FRANCIS!" Miss Sweet bellowed. I grabbed my papers and backpack and scooted quickly out the door. When I finally reached the stairwell, I unfolded the paper and smoothed it out. It read, "My name is Amanda Dagger." I knew right then who my journal partner would be. At least, so I hoped.
Chapter TwoNew Friends
Freddy is right about some things and wrong about others. True, the first time I met him was the next to the last day of school, and it was extremely hot—especially on the second floor. And I definitely threw a wad of paper into his class. But it wasn't meant for Freddy Dash. It was meant for Brook Winter (whom I would meet later in the cafeteria at lunch).
Excerpted from Dagger and Dash by Peggy Schaedler Copyright © 2012 by Peggy Schaedler. Excerpted by permission of abbott press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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