A Picture Book Writing Lesson from WritingFix

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What Got Stolen?

using excellent details to launch organized, original mystery story

The writing of author Rod Clement is currently inspiring student writers to try new techniques with the traits of idea development and organization. Join us in teaching (and adapting) this on-line lesson and sharing your students' work.

You can publish up to three of your students' edited and finished stories at this page.

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Student Samples: Elementary

My Dog Stole my Underwear!
by Georgia, first grade writer

One day, my dog Copper opened my underwear drawer. He stole all my underwear! He then tried to steal the underwear I was wearing. While I was sleeping, he pulled down the covers, and took that pair too.

I told my Mom and Dad.

I found Copper’s secret lair. Inside his lair were potions, a belt from a robe and other things like dog toys, chicken bones and a spatula. I didn’t see any underwear!

We called our neighbors and they helped us look for Copper. We went to the park and we saw Copper digging a hole. He was putting my underwear in the hole.

We didn’t know why he did this so we took him home and said, “Bad, bad, boy!” Now we lock up my underwear and I’m the only one with a key.

(Click here to view and print Georgia and two of her classmates' mystery stories.)

Missing Soap
by Wisam, second grade writer

Once there was a rich family. They bought a muskrat because he looked cute. The pet store salesperson said the muskrat was old. They put him in a cage so he wouldn’t go everywhere.

The next day, the mother was drowsy so she wasn’t paying attention and she lost her soap. On that day, the muskrat got white spots. He felt like bubbles. Mother heard an odd sound like bubbles popping.

They just thought the muskrat was getting older.

Their daughter turned white, too, and her mother thought she had the soap. But it turned out she was just getting pale because she was worried about the crime.

Suddenly the soap slipped from the muskrat’s paw. They knew he was the thief. The muskrat never stole the soap again.

(Click here to view and print Wisam and one of his classmate's mystery stories.)

Student Samples: Upper Elementary

My Brother's Crime
by Alex, fourth grade writer

“Ahhhh! Mom, call 911! Call a lawyer! Call National Security! Call anyone!”

My video games were missing. I kept my games on this table in my bedroom. Erik, my brother, always went in my room when I’m not there, and I think it was him. I never let him play my games, and I think he stole them because they’re the most popular and expensive games that everyone wants.

I looked under my bed, on the table, downstairs and upstairs, but nothing. I think he is playing them right now with his friend at his friend’s house or in his secret lair. Or maybe in a underground house. So I had the police and the S.W.A.T. team start investigating.

One night later, I saw him riding on a new motorcycle on the street. I thought to myself, "Erik can’t drive, or can he?" The next morning I told the police and S.W.A.T team that I saw him, and they investigated every house on that road.

Finally one night I found my brother sneaking into my room and putting back the games. He still had to serve community service, and he hated it but that‘s what he got for stealing my video games.

(Click here to view and print Alex and another fourth grader's mystery stories.)

My Stolen Homework
by Elizabeth, fourth grade writer

Seven words were all it took for a person to know something special was missing: “Please get your Social Studies homework out.”

Those were the words of my teacher, Mrs. Pritchard. I picked up my blue homework folder with the fancy-looking gold imprint that read ‘Parent/Teacher Communication Folder’ on the bottom to take out my homework. But wait! To my shocking surprise, it was gone! Thoughts were racing through my mind. What devious, terrible, and monstrous person could have taken it? A bully? A real robber? The thought made me shudder. Then, as if a person had pulled a file from my brain, a light bulb popped over my head. I knew who had done it: Mrs. Pritchard. My instincts told me she was the one because she loves Social Studies so much.

Immediately, I charged up from my somewhat clean desk and to her ‘mini office’. “Yes, Elizabeth?” Mrs. Pritchard asked.

I loved listening to her teaching and all, but I reminded myself to be angry at her. “You know what you did, Mrs. P,” I said accusingly.

“Why, I don’t know what you’re talking about Elizabeth,” she responded.

“Mrs. Pritchard, you know your exact ferocious actions,” I blurted.

(Click here to view and print Elizabeth's entire mystery story.)

Some Mistakes, Some Silliness, and a Happy Ending
by Grace, fifth grade writer

I walked outside of my elegant house, hoping to get fresh air on a quick walk, but I found that cold and icy doesn’t fit my personality. “Well, thats enough fresh air,” I mumbled disappointedly. I had to run an errand so I headed to the garage to find my new F.J. Toyota gone!

I was delirious with anger, and then I remembered that the neighbors had recently bought a new car just like mine...or had they?. I bundled up and ran out the door, forgetting it wasn’t open and crashed into the ground. I jumped back up with new energy rushing through me and, yes, this time opening the door to get out. I hopped my neighbor’s fence to take back my F.J.

I strode to the car, looking innocent, and hopped in only to find it had turned into a stubborn mule. He bucked me off in a millisecond. I had forgotten my glasses, and I guess my neighbors had called the police. So I hopped back over the fence in one graceful movement, ran inside the house to locate my glasses, and slid in the door just in time to miss the policemen's arrival. Whew, that had been close.

I rushed to find my glasses and I grabbed them. Ahh, much better, my mind thought. I looked out the window to see a neighborhood hobo now hop into my car! I ran out side dressed in my powder puff pink pajamas with the matching slippers. The car drove off, leaving me humiliated, confused and provoked. I ran after the car to find police cars surrounding it.

“That is right, arrest her,” I said confidently.

The policeman looked at me and said, "Ma’am you are under arrest for stalking this girl.”

“Cut and wrap!” an unfamiliar voice boomed. A movie director sat on a chair nearby. “You did great,” he giggled.

“What?” I said confused.”

"Here is your car back,” the hobo-playing actor laughed.

"Who said you could steal my car?” I asked furiously.”

“Your husband. Didn’t he tell you?” T\The director questioned.

“What do you think?” I asked, looking down at my pajamas. “No,” I announced.

Then we all started laughing at how silly I had been. I guess I should go back and tell my neighbor what happened.

The Missing Bun
by Toni, sixth grade writer

“I got of the shower and I went to get my bun out of the closet,” Hotdog told Officer Hamburger. “When it wasn’t in there, I checked the washer and dryer. They were empty. I started to get nervous. I tore through every inch of my bedroom, bathroom, livingroom, and washing room. When I didn’t find it I called you.”

“Okay, I understand,” commented Officer Hamburger. “May I have a further examination?”

“Of course,” replied Hotdog.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t find any clues,” Officer Hamburger said after ten minutes of searching the house.

“That’s okay,” replied Hotdog.

They both left the house. Ketchup strutted by with a cool face. “Hey, HD,” he said with a wink.

“IT WAS YOU!” exclaimed HotDog.

“What did I do?” asked Ketchup.

“You know what you did,” said Hotdog.

“No, I don’t,” replied Ketchup.

“You stole my bun!” You always have liked it!” Right then Hotdog leaped onto Ketchup’s back and started to tackle him.

“Hey, break it up! Break it up!” shouted Officer Hamburger. There’s no need to get feisty you two!”

“Yeah, there’s no need to get feisty HD!” Ketchup said mockingly.

Infuriated, Hotdog ran for him again, but Officer Hamburger blocked the assault. “Ketchup," he shouted, "you go to the police station for further questioning. Hotdog, you come with me”.

“Okay," Hotdog admitted, "I might have overreacted, but how can you blame me? My bun is missing!”

“Yes, I understand that, but you need to calm down,” Officer Hamburger told him.

But right then Hotdog saw something that made him scream! It was French Fry wearing a bun, but not just any bun, Hotdog’s bun! “You stole my bun, French Fry!”

French Fry looked confused. " Oh, you still want it? When I stayed last night at your house, it was on the ground. It was so dirty that I didn’t know you were still keeping it. I’m really sorry.”

“Ah, that’s okay. Can I still have it back though?” asked Hotdog.

“Of course. It is yours, after all,” replied French Fry.

“Well, I guess this case is closed then,” Officer Hamburger announced.

“Yes, yes, it is!” Hotdog, Ketchup, and French Fry cried out together.


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