I Spy Private Eye
When Jennifer complains that someone or something has cut up her shoelaces, Ruth the Sleuth and Jake Hunter take the case. Who is the culprit? And why would anyone want to do such a thing?
Find out how Ruth and Jake pool their detective skills. How will they solve the puzzling shoelace mystery?
“It was no accident, Jennifer,” Ruth said. “See where the laces cross down the middle?” She held the magnifying glass close to the shoe. “Look! You can see the frayed ends.”
Jake leaned over and peered through the glass.
“What’s that short brown hair,” Ruth said. “That might explain it.”
“I’ll bet the weapon was a knife,” said Jake.
“Or a pair of scissors,” said Jennifer.
Ruth ignored them and wrote quickly in her notebook.
The Shoelace Slasher Case…
I SPY PRIVATE EYE
Ruth jumped out of bed early the next morning. She didn’t want to be late for the pet show. The first thing she saw was her bulletin board. It was covered with treasures. Pennants, prize ribbons, and pictures. She had added Jake’s two new pictures.
She put on her Tree Watch t-shirt, shorts, and runners. In the bathroom, she combed her frizzy red hair down with lots of water. Nothing made it look straighter. She frowned at her freckles in the mirror.
She stuffed her notebook in her back pocket and ran downstairs.
Mom was in the kitchen making breakfast. Ruth loved the weekends best of all. Her mother didn’t have to go to work so they always had Saturday morning breakfast together.
Ruth flopped down at the kitchen table and her mother put a dish of French toast with maple syrup in front of her.
“Mmmm…my favourite!” Ruth cried. She stuffed a big piece in her mouth.
Mrs. Percival smiled.
Ruth swallowed two more pieces of French toast.
“What are you doing today?” Mom asked. “More detective work?”
“Well, we do have a really big case,” Ruth mumbled with her mouth full. “Jake and I are going to the pet show at the library.”
“Too bad you don’t have pets,” Mom said.
“Yes, but all our suspects will be there.” Ruth swallowed the last big of French toast without chewing it and jumped up from the table.
“Jake has some new pets.” Ruth rolled her eyes. “Hey, Mom, do you know what is green and sings?”
“One of Jake’s pets?” her mother asked.
“Elvis Parsley,” said Ruth, giggling. “See you later, Mom.”
“Good luck, honey!”
Ruth pulled open the front door. Jake stood there with his arm raised.
“I was just going to knock.” He carried a fat plastic bag. His camera hung from his right shoulder. “What have you got in that bag?” asked Ruth, curious. “Your lunch?”
“Nope!” Jake explained, wrinkling his nose. “Tadpoles. Caught them in the creek.”
Ruth grabbed her baseball cap off the hook in the hall and jammed it on her head.
Outside, it had just stopped raining. The street was wet with puddles. The sun poked its head through fluffy grey and white clouds. They started to walk toward the library.
“You never told me you had a pet,” Ruth said accusingly.
“You never asked,” Jake said. “I’ve only had them a couple of days. What’s the diff?”
“Forget it,” said Ruth. “Bet I’ll be the only kid at the pet show without a pet.” She sighed loudly. “Besides we have bigger fish to fry.” She laughed loudly at her own joke.
“My tadpoles won’t win anyway,” he said. “They’re pretty dumb pets.”
Ruth looked carefully at the tadpoles. They were swimming around in the plastic bag. Jake had stuffed some green mossy stuff in the bottom to make them feel at home.
“At least they’ll change into frogs someday,” she offered. “Too bad they can’t do it this morning. You’d win for sure.”
“Yes!” said Jake. “Hands down.”
They reached the front door of the library. They stopped to wait when they saw Jennifer walking up the street with her dog Duke. Her sister, Elizabeth, walked behind them. She held on tightly to their Siamese cat. Ting squirmed and wriggled to break free. She meowed loudly.
She still sounds like a goat,” Ruth whispered to Jake.
“Ruth!” Jennifer cried when she saw her. “Help me out! Can you look after Ting at the pet show? Elizabeth is having too much trouble.”
Carefully, Ruth lifted the cat out of Elizabeth’s arms. She was glad Ting had a cat leash attached to her rhinestone-studded collar. Ting felt so soft and warm that Ruth bent down and nuzzled her face in the soft white and brown fur.
“Sounds like a lawnmower.”
“Ting likes you, Ruth,” Jennifer said in a pleased voice. “Let’s go inside. We don’t want to be late.”
A sign was posed on the library door.
PLEASE REMOVE WET SHOES
Ruth pulled off her runners and left them at the door on top of the pile of shoes already there. The Story Space had been cleared to make room for the pets. Benches and boxes for the pets to sit on were placed in a large circle.
Lots of kids from school were there, Ruth noticed. Robin McNicoll brought her pet hamster, Alf. He scampered around a wheel inside a cage. Kerri Ricardo had her dog, Shorty. She had taught him to turn around and around when she said, “Dance, Shorty, dance.” David’s dog was dressed in a Cobra Man costume-just like David’s.
Martin Melnik, who was in Grade Six, had a garter snake in a plastic box. There were holes punched in the lid.
“What kind of a dog is that?” Martin asked Kerri. “A sausage dog?”
“He’s a dachshund,” Kerri said stiffly. “And he can dance.”
Kerri circled a Doggy Treat over Shorty’s head. Sure enough, he stood up on his hind legs and jumped around in a kind of dance.
“You should put him in a sausage machine,’ said Martin. He laughed, snorting through his nose.
Kerri ignored him and took her dog to sit on the bench.
Martin Melnik was a total nerd, thought Ruth. She went over to get Ting a number.
“I don’t think Ting will win anything,” she told Jake. “The tadpoles don’t have a chance either. If you ask me.”
“Nobody’s asking,” said Jake with a scowl. “Besides, we’re supposed to look for clues. The case of the slashed shoelaces. Remember? No case too small, we solve them all.”
“That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?” Ruth said.
She sat Ting on a low bench and looped the cat’s leash around the bench leg. “Take some pictures of the pet show. Especially the suspects.”
Jake nodded. Miss Silver, the librarian, called for attention.
“Boys and girls,” she began. “I’m happy to see so many of you here with your pets this morning. I know they’ll be well behaved.”
“I know mine will be,” said Jake.
A big orange cat with green eyes meowed loudly. He wasn’t wearing a leash but paced back and forth behind the benches.
“Whose cat is that?” asked Ruth.
“I don’t know,” said Jake. “Maybe he just wandered in off the street.”
“Just followed the crowd, eh?” Ruth bit her lip. “He’d better not come near Ting.”
“Why would anyone go near that freaked-out cat?” It was Martin Melnik. He snorted loudly.
Ruth looked at the orange cat closely.
“I think I’ve seen that cat before.”
“He’s the one I saw in Mr. Juta’s garden,” said Jake. “He’s big, but scrawny. Doesn’t get enough to eat. I can tell.”
He held the camera up to take pictures of some of the pets.
“He is a stray,” said Martin, who had been listening. “He comes to our place looking for freebies. My old man gives him milk.”
Ruth narrowed her eyes and took out her notebook.
“So that’s how he got in here, Martin Melnik,” she accused. “You let him in.”
“Come on, Ruth the Snoop,” Martin taunted, shrugging his shoulders. “Maybe he followed me in here. Can I help it if animals love me?”
Martin took his snake out of the box. He disappeared before Ruth had time to answer.
Jake’s camera flashed. A moment later, Ruth heard a loud bleating noise.
She turned just in time to see Ting arch her back. A furry ball of fury, she meowed and spit at the orange cat.
The big orange cat paced around and around Ting in circles. He kept coming closer and closer to the Siamese.
Ruth’s heard pounded. What was she going to do? Cats hissed and spat. Dogs howled, whined and strained at their leashes. She had to rescue Ting from the orange cat right away. Or there was big trouble ahead.
Ruth sprang forward.
Publisher ITP Nelson,
85 pages, (Grades 3 – 4, 1998).
To order call: 1-800-268-2222