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The 411: Youth

Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighborhood Block Party

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July 17, 2013 | 1,683 views | Post a comment

Story By Stacy Tornio
Illustrations By Roel Wielinga

Teacher guides available upon request.

Chapter 3: Missing in Action

The story so far: The neighborhood block party is in full swing. The staff of The Robyn Report newspaper is covering the story. Roxanne just told Robyn there’s an animal missing from the petting zoo.

“What do you mean there’s an animal missing?” I ask. “Where did it go?”

This is not good. An animal is missing from the petting zoo. This could be a disaster.

“I don’t know where it went,” she says. “It was there one minute, and then it disappeared.”

Roxanne looks like she might cry. If she does, I know she’s going to be loud. That’s the only way Roxanne could cry. I have to do something before that happens and disturbs everyone.

“It’s OK,” I tell her. “Let me just ...”

I think about the seed-spitting contest. There are three rounds. It will probably be a little while before the final round, so I could come back and still catch the contest. I look at Roxanne. She still looks like she might cry. I know I have to help her.

I sigh. “OK, let’s go.”

Roxanne jumps up and down in her orange shoes. “Thanks, Robyn. I knew you would know what to do.”

I follow Roxanne to the Petersons’ back yard. This is where the petting zoo is held.

The neighborhood petting zoo is one of the most popular events of the block party.
Anyone can bring a pet. I see J.P.’s little sister, Allison. She’s holding their cat, Buster. They are in Crazy Cat Corner. I look around the yard to see the other animals. There are dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, rabbits, two birds and even a ferret. I can see how an animal could go missing. This back yard is ... well ... it’s like a zoo!

“So which animal is missing?” I ask Roxanne.

“Shhhhhh! Not so loud,” she says.

I can’t believe it. Rowdy Roxanne telling me not to be so loud.

“No one knows it’s missing,” she whispers. “They don’t want anyone to get upset.”

“So are you going to tell me?”

Roxanne pulls me into a nearby shrub.

“It’s some kind of lizard,” she whispers.

“What?!” I ask.

I love animals, but I’m not good with lizards. They remind me of snakes, and I do not like snakes. I wonder if my sister ever had to do a story on lizards.

“Robyn, what are we going to do?” Roxanne asks.

I’d just like to forget about the lizard, but I can’t. This is an important story. The neighborhood deserves to know what happened to the missing lizard. We have to cover it.

“We’re going to find that lizard,” I say in a determined voice. “But I’m not going to touch it.”

It’s time to get down to business.

“Who knows that it’s missing?” I ask.

“Just Aidan,” she says. “It’s his lizard. But he doesn’t want anyone to know it’s missing. That’s why he came to me.”

I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want anyone to know it’s missing, either. Lizards are creepy. I look around the yard.

“OK, here’s what we’re going to do,” I say to Roxanne. “You check the trees and shrubs. I’ll look around the flowers and in the grass. Lizards like natural environments.”

Roxanne and I go in different directions. I walk over to Mrs. Peterson’s flower bed. I will leave no petal unturned. Soon, a shadow towers over me. I look up and see Mrs. Peterson, glaring down.

“What exactly are you doing in my petunias?” she asks.

“I ... um ... I ...”

“I’m waiting,” Mrs. Peterson says, somewhat impatiently.

“You see, it’s for The Robyn Report,” I say, thinking almost as fast as I’m speaking. “We’re considering doing a story on your prize-winning petunias. They’re always the best in the neighborhood.” That part is true.

Mrs. Peterson smiles. “You’re doing a story on me?” she says. “Oh, I can’t wait. When is it going to be in The Report?”

“In a few weeks,” I say. “I’ll give you a call next week to schedule an interview.”

Mrs. Peterson is practically glowing. Note to self, I think: Must do a story on Mrs. Peterson’s petunias. Sometimes, you have to do things to keep readers happy.

“I do have a few gardening secrets,” she says. “If you’d like, I could show you my roses, too. They are just beautiful, especially during the summer. You see, the reason my blooms are so beautiful ...”

I can tell I could be here for a while.

“I’d like to Mrs. Peterson, but first I have to ...”

Suddenly, we hear a scream from the other side of the yard.


A Hot Topics Hot Serials Story. Copyright © 2006 Stacy Tornio

Watch for Chapter 4: “Leaping Lizards!”
next week.

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