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The 411: Youth

Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighborhood Block Party

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August 14, 2013 | 1,671 views | Post a comment

Teacher guides available upon request. Email nie@wcn-online.com.

Story By Stacy Tornio
Illustrations By Roel Wielinga

Chapter 8:

Take Me out to the Ball Game

The story so far: Robyn has figured out who won the seed-spitting contest. She’s about to announce the winner.

I know the winner of the seed-spitting contest. I can tell by looking at the seeds. One is a perfectly shaped watermelon seed. The other has teeth marks all along the edges. The perfect one went farther.

“Sarah is the winner,” I proclaim.

“How do you know?” Mrs. Rogers asks.

“Henry chews on his seeds, but Sarah doesn’t,” I say. “This seed has clearly been chewed,” I explain while pointing to the seed that didn’t fly as far.

Henry knows that I am right. After all, the whole neighborhood is my witness. We all saw him chew the seed before he spat.

“We have a seed-spitting champion,” Mrs. Rogers says. “For the fourth year in a row ... Sarah!”

The crowd cheers. I cheer, too. Mrs. Rogers gives Sarah her prize, a giant watermelon and a trophy. Sarah asks Mrs. Rogers to cut it open. She wants to share it with the whole neighborhood. My mouth starts to water. I could use a snack. Just as I reach for a piece ...


I don’t even need to turn around to know who it is.

“What do you want, Roxanne?”

“You have to come with me,” she says. “Again.”

“I can’t,” I say. “I’m going to eat some watermelon. Then I have to interview Sarah.”

“Come on,” she says. “There’s a big emergency at the baseball field.”

Roxanne doesn’t even wait for me to respond. She takes off running. She means business.
I guess my interview with Sarah will have to wait.

I take off after Roxanne. She is running so fast that I can’t even catch up to her. I just see her brown ponytail swishing back and forth. When we both get to the baseball field, she stops to fix her hair and then points toward the field.

“What is it?” I ask.

“Look!” Roxanne says. “See for yourself.”

I look out across the field and see what she is talking about. There’s no baseball game going on. Something is definitely wrong.

J.P. and Corinna walk up to me. I look at them questioningly.

“OK, here’s the deal,” J.P. says.

“Give her the shortened version,” Corinna says. “We have to keep looking.”

“Right,” he says. “The baseball game kicked off. It was going well until the second inning.”

“What happened in the second inning?” I ask.

“I’ll get there,” J.P. says. “In the second inning, a practical joker started mocking the umpire. He started yelling out calls -- ‘Strike,’ ‘Ball,’ even ‘You’re out!’”

“Wait a minute,” I say. “How do you know it was a he?”

J.P. shrugs. “That’s beside the point,” he says. “What I’m trying to say is it ruined the game. Everyone was confused -- the players, the coaches, the crowd, even the ump!”

“Who was it?” I ask.

Corinna butts in. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” she says. “No one knows, and if we can’t figure out who it is, we can’t stop it.”

This is a big story. No, not just big. Huge. Someone is trying to ruin the neighborhood baseball game. This might be the biggest story of the block party.

“OK, J.P.,” I say. “You’re in charge. What do you want us to do?”

My mom says that the best reporters don’t always have to be in charge. I know J.P. will do a good job, so I give him the assignment.

“We have to spread out,” J.P. says. “Corinna, you take the outfield. Roxanne, you take the concession stand. Robyn, you and I will split the bleachers.”

“What are we looking for?” Corinna asks. “The whole neighborhood has been looking, and no one has found anything.”

“Yeah,” I say. “What are we looking for?”

“Everything,” J.P. says.

I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but I did put J.P. in charge.

“You got it,” I say. “Let’s go.”

We all scatter in different directions. I go to the bleachers and start looking around. Before I see anything, the home plate umpire stands up in front of the crowd.

“The guilty party needs to step forward or this game will be canceled,” the umpire says.

The crowd does not seem happy. The ump holds his hands up to quiet the audience. “I’m sorry,” he says. “But this has been going on for three innings. We can’t continue the game under these conditions.”

He says he will wait 10 minutes. If someone doesn’t confess by then, the game will be over. We have to work fast. The crowd is starting to get really loud. As I survey the crowd, I try to figure out who the jokester is. There are too many people and too many noises. I can’t concentrate. I close my eyes and try to block out all the other noises.


My eyes fly open. Did I hear what I think I did?


This time I’m sure of what I heard. Someone is calling a strike. And it’s not the ump. I look around the crowd, but no one else seems to have noticed. It’s not hard to see why. This baseball game has turned into another zoo.

I know I heard someone say “Strike,” but there’s no way to tell where it came from. This place is nuts! It’s just too loud.

Wait a minute, I think to myself. I know how to solve this mystery.

Watch for Chapter 9: “Loud and Proud” next week.

A Hot Topics Hot Serials Story Copyright © 2006 Stacy Tornio

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