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Story: The Case of the Missing Dinosaur

By Debbie Urbanski

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
The light bulb icon represents curiosity. For content about raising a curious child, look for this icon.
The paint brush icon represents creativity. For content about raising a creative child, look for this icon.
The holding hands icon represents caring. For content about raising a caring child, look for this icon.
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Nina and Teddy run a detective agency in their neighborhood. When their friend’s stuffed dinosaur goes missing, they’re on the case! Can they solve the puzzle of the missing dinosaur? Read the story to find out!
The Case of the Missing Dinosaur

It had been a productive morning so far. I’d already filled a page with notes. My last entry: Footsteps coming. Door opening! 

“Good morning, Teddy,” I said as my little brother peeked his head into the closet. “Are you ready to get to work?” 

Teddy and I run a detective agency together out of an office in my bedroom closet. The sign on the door says Investigations by Nina (with help from Teddy). 

Teddy handed me slips of paper he’d gathered from the empty flowerpot on our porch. That’s where family and neighbors let us know about mysteries to solve. 

I read the papers. “Mrs. Garza is missing her watering can, and all of Maya’s painted rocks are gone,” I said. 

“First let’s find a missing dragon!” said Teddy. 

My brother has a wild imagination. “I don’t think anybody we know is missing a dragon,” I said. “We are not heroes on a quest. We’re detectives. We find things like missing shoes and hats.” 

“How about a dinosaur?” asked Teddy. “My friend Peter is missing his dinosaur.” 

“Stop joking around,” I said. “Dinosaurs are extinct.” 

“It’s his stuffed-animal dinosaur,” Teddy said. 

That sounded promising. I asked Teddy to tell me everything he knew. 

Most days after school, my brother goes across the street to Peter’s house to play Go Fish. But yesterday, Peter refused to play any games. His eyes were red. He kept talking about his Brontosaurus, Bruno. 

We walked to Peter’s house to check things out. 

Peter was in his yard digging in his sandbox. Large hole in sandbox, I wrote before going through my usual questions. 

“When did you last see Bruno?” I asked. 

“Yesterday, in the morning,” Peter answered. 

“Where did you see him?” 

“He was with me. I was holding him,” Peter said. 

“Have you dug other holes this week?” 

Peter shook his head. 

I sighed. The hole appeared to be a false trail. 

“I have a question,” said Teddy, pulling out his notebook and a pencil. 

I raised my eyebrows. My brother never speaks up during an investigation. 

“What did you eat for breakfast yesterday?” he asked. 

“Cereal,” I said. “Corn flakes. Just like you.” 

“I was asking Peter,” said Teddy. 

“Oatmeal,” Peter said. 

“With milk?” asked Teddy. 

Does that really matter? I thought. 

Peter said yes, it was oatmeal with milk. 

In his notebook, Teddy drew a bowl of oatmeal next to a pitcher of milk. “You never know what’s a clue,” he told me. 

I smiled. I was the one who had taught him that! 

We went inside Peter’s house. “Let’s pretend it’s time for breakfast,” I told Peter. “You come downstairs. Then what?” 

Peter sat on a chair and clutched his imaginary dinosaur with his left hand. He poured imaginary milk with his right hand. He ate imaginary oatmeal using his right hand. He pretended to eat and eat and eat. It was taking forever. 

“You don’t have to pretend to eat all of it,” I told him, smiling. 

Using his right hand, Peter carried his imaginary bowl to the sink. He went into the pantry and used both hands to pull out a stool. He set the stool down in front of the fridge and put away the imaginary milk with his right hand. 

I reviewed my notes. 

“Wait,” I said. “How did you hold Bruno while you were carrying the stool?” I looked over at Teddy, who nodded knowingly. 

“The pantry!” Teddy whispered. He ran into the pantry and stayed there for almost a full minute. When he came out, he was holding a stuffed dinosaur. 

“Bruno was on the bottom shelf, next to the flour,” Teddy explained. “You probably put him there when you picked up the stool.” 

Teddy was turning out to be a good detective. The talent must run in our family. 

Peter hugged his dinosaur tightly. He wouldn’t let us leave until we hugged his dinosaur too. 

Back home, I peeked inside the flowerpot on our porch. Three more slips of paper waited for us. People were losing all sorts of things today: sunglasses, a book, a yellow glove. 

“Are you ready for our next case?” I asked my partner. 

Teddy nodded and flipped to a new page in his notebook. 

I had the feeling it was going to be another busy Saturday. 

From Highlights magazine