Edgar Allan's Official Crime Investigation Notebook

Mary Amato

Holiday House / New York

Copyright © 2010 by Mary Amato

All Rights Reserved

HOLIDAY HOUSE is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


The text typeface is ITC Slimbach Book.

ISBN 978-0-8234-2448-1 (ebook)w

ISBN 978-0-8234-2677-5 (ebook)r

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Amato, Mary.

Edgar Allan's official crime investigation notebook /

by Mary Amato. — 1st ed.

Summary: When someone takes a pet goldfish then other items from

Ms. Herschel's classroom, each time leaving a clue in the form

of a poem, student Edgar Allan competes with a classmate

to be first to solve the mystery.

ISBN 978-0-8234-2271-5 (hardcover)

[1. Mystery and detective stories.   2. Lost and found possessions—Fiction.   3. Teachers—Fiction.   4. Schools—Fiction.   5. Poetry—Fiction.]   I. Title.

PZ7.A49165Edg 2010



ISBN 978-0-8234-2386-6 (paperback)

For all the people who have shared the love of poetry with me, especially Mrs. Chattin; Mrs. Osborne; Mr. McCauley; Frau Hildebrandt; Mr. Osborne; Mari Vlastos; Natasha Saje; David Christman; Julie Lowins Zielke; Andrew Schindel; Jed Feffer; Richard Washer; Phyllis Mentzell Ryder; Ivan, Sol, and Sylvia Amato; and my kids.


The classroom was as dark and quiet as an old graveyard at dawn. The thief crept in, taped a mysterious message on the board, tiptoed to the Pet Corner, and peered at the fish.

You're mine now, the thief thought with a sly smile.

At Wordsworth Elementary School, just before the day began, someone stole the fish from the tank in Ms. Herschel's fifth-grade classroom. Now the fifth graders were gathered around the message left on the board, everyone talking at once.

Well, not everyone. One student, Edgar Allan, wasn't saying a word. He had his eyes closed and was imagining what the ordeal must have been like for the fish. He could almost feel the rushing of the water against his fins and tail as he was being lifted out. Edgar wasn't sure how fish brains worked, but he bet the fish was scared.

“Please close your mouths and take your seats,” Ms. Herschel said. “We won't get anywhere with all this noise.” Their teacher set down her coffee cup, sat on
the edge of her desk, and looked at her students over the rims of her dark-framed glasses, waiting for them to settle down.

As Edgar walked to his desk, a shiver rippled through him. A strange chill always lingers at the scene of a robbery, even after the thief has gone, and Edgar could feel it in the air. He sat and looked at his classmates. Everyone was sitting quietly, except for a skinny boy named Kip, whose leg was jiggling against his desk, and Taz, the tallest in the class, who was pretending to swim to his seat in the last row while making fish faces.

“Taz, do you think this is funny?” Ms. Herschel asked.

“I don't think it's funny,” Maia said. “I gave Slurpy to the whole class as a gift. Whoever stole that cute little fish was mean.” She tossed back her long black hair and threw a hard glance at Taz.

“Very bad,” Gabriela, the new girl, quickly agreed.

“Stop staring at me,” Taz said to the girls. “What do you think? I came in here and ate it for breakfast?” He laughed and made a slurping sound.

Destiny Perkins sat up taller in her seat. “Stealing anything is wrong. But stealing living things seems worse because whatever you're stealing is probably scared.”

Edgar glanced at Destiny, realizing that she must have imagined what the fish was feeling, too.

“If I wanted to, I could steal something and not get caught because I'm fast,” Kip said, and he was about to leap up and prove it, but Ms. Herschel stopped him.

“What if Slurpy is dead!” Maia exclaimed.

Patrick, a boy who couldn't sit straighter if he tried, raised his hand. “I think Slurpy was stolen, not murdered,
because of what the note says. The thief left clues in it.”

“Interesting, Patrick,” Ms. Herschel said. “Would you like to read the note aloud?”

Even though Ms. Herschel had said nothing about using her pointer, Patrick walked to the board, picked up the teacher's wooden stick, and pointed to each line in the note as he read it aloud.

“See the title?” Patrick pointed. “Thief. Not murderer! And the thief takes the fish

“A cat did it!” Kip said.

Maia rolled her eyes. “The thief is
a cat, meaning sneaky.” She threw another look at Taz.

“I think you're right about the thief being sneaky, Maia,” Ms. Herschel said. “But let's not jump to conclusions about who did it without more clues.”

“Maybe none of us did it,” Destiny said. “Maybe it was a professional thief.”

An invisible finger of ice touched Edgar's spine. A
professional thief! He opened his notebook and began writing.

Tuesday, October 2

My whole body is shivering. A criminal has been in this very room where I'm now sitting. All my life I've been waiting for something like this to happen.

I'll record clues in this notebook. I will catch this thief before anyone else does!

Excited, he closed the notebook and wrote in big letters on the front:

Edgar Allan's Official Crime Investigation Notebook

Still standing at the front, Patrick pulled a silver camera out of his pocket. “Ms. Herschel, may I take a picture of the evidence?”

“Great idea, Patrick,” Ms. Herschel said. “But then I'm afraid we really have to begin our science lesson.”

Edgar couldn't believe his ears or eyes.

Ms. Herschel is letting Patrick takes pictures of the crime scene.

This is not fair. Some of us do not have cameras.

Never fear! I will design a trap
to catch the thief. I will put a fake fish in the tank with a string attached. When the thief takes the fish, the string will pull on a net that falls down from the ceiling.

As Patrick strolled by Edgar's desk on his way to his own, he grabbed Edgar's notebook and started to read it.

“Give it back!” Edgar whispered angrily.

Patrick scribbled a message and tossed it back to Edgar.

Your trap is stupid.

Edgar glared at his classmate who was now busy writing on the cover of his own notebook. When Edgar leaned over to see what he was writing, he almost fell off his chair.

Patrick just wrote “Patrick Chen's Official Crime Investigation Notebook” on his notebook, which is basically stealing my idea, so who is the criminal now?

He covered his notebook with his arm so Patrick couldn't get another glimpse.

Patrick leaned over and whispered, “What a crime solver needs is a theory about why someone would commit the crime. I've got one. Do you?”

“Of course,” Edgar said. Then he hunched over his desk and wrote:

Help! I need a theory. Why? Why? Why steal a small, goldish red fish with a white belly that bothered no one and gave joy to the happy students at Wordsworth Elementary School?

All I know is there are criminals out there who do bad things and innocent fish pay the price.


Edgar's brain was bubbling, and a theory was finally coming to the surface.

“Time for math,” Ms. Herschel said. “Let's see who can solve today's math brain teaser.”

Not math, Edgar thought. Not at a time like this!

While she read the day's word problem out loud, he grabbed his notebook.

What if the thief knows something about Slurpy that we don't know? Perhaps Slurpy is a rare species, a one-of-a-kind fish, that can be sold on eBay for big bucks! Now,
a theory!

Edgar raised his hand.

“That was quick problem-solving, Edgar! What's the answer?”

“I don't know. I was just wondering if I could go to the computer station and do some research on a certain
important topic.” He glanced at Patrick to see if he was impressed.

“No you may not. We are doing math now.”

Doesn't Ms. Herschel know that asking me to stop investigating is like asking a fly to stop flying or a bee to stop beeing or a cheetah to stop cheeting?

Ms. Herschel repeated the word problem. “Two years ago my dog had eight puppies. I kept one-fourth of them. Last year my dog had six more puppies. I kept one-half of them. How many puppies do I have now?”

Taz raised his hand. “You'd have zero puppies because now they would all be grown-up dogs!”

Ms. Herschel had to laugh. “Well, you're right. Okay, how many
do I have now?”

Patrick and Destiny raised their hands at the same time. Before their teacher could choose who to call on, Patrick blurted out the answer. “One-quarter of eight is two, plus half of six is three, so you would have five dogs plus the mother dog.”

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