The case of the missing magazines

Words: 501-600

Skills: Character Traits Compare and Contrast Story Elements

Grades: 3rd 4th

Topics: Mystery / Suspense / Horror and Realistic Fiction

Genres: Prose

Lexile Range: 740L - 1050L

Lexile Measure: 870L

CCSS: Reading: Literature


The Case of the Missing Magazines

by RV staff writer

Students will read a detective story and see if they can solve the mystery before it’s revealed. Students will answer questions about character, plot, making inferences, comparing and contrasting, and cause and effect.

Reading Comprehension Passage

The Case of the Missing Magazines

by RV staff writer

Melia and her father had just finished building a tree house in the backyard. Melia, an artist, wanted to decorate the walls, and instead of buying things, she decided to make her own art.

Melia enjoyed making collages using a combination of photos she had taken and pieces of fabric. For her tree house, she thought she would use pictures from magazines instead. She could collect used magazines from neighbors, so the pictures would be free. And to create a collage of all her favorite things, she could add pretty leaves, moss, and pine cones from the yard.

For several days, Melia collected bits of nature to use for the collage. She also collected magazines from the neighbors. She stacked both on the front porch, as her plan was to make the collage over the weekend. Oddly, though, when she added to the piles each day, many of the sticks and leaves were gone, and the pile of magazines was a mess. 

“Dad? Mom?” Melia asked. “Have either of you been taking the supplies for my collage off the porch?” 

“Now, why on Earth would we do that?” her dad answered with a question. 

“I don’t know, but what I do know is that someone is spoiling my art project! It’s my mission to find out who and why!” Melia declared.

Who would want to steal this stuff? She had a plan. She cleaned up the rest of the leaves and tossed the ruined magazines in the recycling bin. She started collecting old magazines again, hoping to set a trap for the bandit. Even if she had to stay up all night, Melia was determined to solve the case.

Once she had collected a large stack of magazines, Melia formed several piles on the front porch. She placed them close to the window so that she could catch the thief. She asked her parents if she could sleep on the sofa. “I know they’re used magazines, but I need them for my art project. I have to solve this case!” 

Melia was determined to catch the bandit, but she had a difficult time staying awake. Within a few hours, she had nodded off. Just as the sun was rising, a slight scratching sound awoke her. 

Melia peeked out the window, and her eyes opened wide! A squirrel was toppling the piles of magazines and using its paws to rip out pages. It stuffed the paper in its mouth and scurried away. Then, a few minutes later, it was back again to collect more paper!

Melia tiptoed outside and watched as the squirrel made its third run. She followed the furry creature up the tree and into the tree house. Torn magazine paper, shredded bark, and dry leaves littered the floor. 

A box that Melia planned to store her snacks in was slowly being transformed into a squirrel house! Melia ran back into the house, shouting, “It’s a squirrel! It’s a squirrel! Wake up! Come and look!”

Although Melia’s parents thought the squirrel was cute, having a wild animal in the tree house was not a good idea. They relocated the box nearby so that Melia could watch the squirrel build its nest from a safe place in her tree house.

“Case closed,” Melia said, feeling brilliant about solving this case and looking forward to her next mystery to solve. 

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. What do the tree house and Melia’s interest in art tell you about her?

2. Why does Melia stack the newspapers in front of the windows?

3. In what way are Melia and the squirrel alike?

4. What happens when Melia finds out the identity of the bandit? Why do you think she wants to solve more mysteries?

Vocabulary List

Vocabulary List

Each of the vocabulary words below are used in the reading passage. As you read the passage, pay attention to context clues that suggest the word’s meaning.

  1. decorate
  2. collages
  3. bandit
  4. scurried
  5. creature
  6. shredded
  7. relocated
  8. brilliant

Context Clues

Context Clues

Using context clues from the sentences in the passage, underline the correct meaning of the word in boldface.

1) "Melia, an artist, wanted to decorate the walls"

a. dress up; make pretty     b. raise     c. cover     d. clean

2) "Melia enjoyed making collages using a combination of photos"

a. frames     b. magazines     c. dollhouses     d. paper crafts using glue

3) "She started collecting old magazines again, hoping to set a trap for the bandit"

a. mystery guest     b. small bird     c. thief     d. animal

4) "It stuffed the paper in its mouth and scurried away"

a. rolled     b. ran; scampered     c. flew     d. swallowed

5) "She followed the furry creature"

a. pet      b. paper trail     c. head     d. animal

6) "Torn magazine paper, shredded bark, and dry leaves littered the floor"

a. cut up     b. wooden     c. bumpy     d. wet

7) "They relocated the box nearby"

a. watched     b. cleaned     c. removed; took somewhere else     d. opened

8) "'Case closed,' Melia said, feeling brilliant about solving this case"

a. proud     b. smart     c. sad     d. happy