My name is Nate the Great.
I am a detective.
My partner is my dog, Sludge.
One morning we were out for a walk.
Suddenly, someone called to us.
It was Esmeralda.
Esmeralda is very smart.
She knows many things.
“Hey, Nate. Hey, Sludge,” she called.
“I have lost something.”
I was surprised.
“What did you lose?” I asked.
“I lost a word,” Esmeralda said.
“What?” I said. “How did you lose a word?”
Esmeralda sighed. “Well, I had it and then I didn’t,” she said.
I was interested. Sludge looked interested too.
“Hmm,” I said. “Did you write the word or just say it?”
“I said it and
wrote it on pink paper.
Now I don’t remember the word.
Please find it for me.”
“I, Nate the Great, will take the case,”
“I will look for your word.
First, I have questions to ask you.
WHEN did you lose the word?
WHERE did you lose the word?
HOW did you lose the word?”
“I have answers to your questions,” Esmeralda said.
“I lost my word yesterday. I was at Rosamond’s house. I was at her dining room table. It was noon. I wrote my word and then it was gone.”
“Did Rosamond see you write the word
on the pink paper?” I asked.
“No, Rosamond was in the kitchen,” Esmeralda said.
“She wants to have a pet singing concert. She was testing pets’ singing voices.”
“Who else was in the house?” I asked.
“The kitchen was full of people,” Esmeralda said. “And pets too.
Finley’s rat; Oliver’s eel; Claude’s pig; Annie’s dog, Fang; and Rosamond’s four cats. The pets were in the kitchen for tryouts.”
“So you were alone in the dining room?”
“Almost,” Esmeralda said. “Pip’s parrot is afraid of Rosamond’s cats. He was with me.”
“Smart bird,” I said. “But where was Pip?”
“In the kitchen, listening to the tryouts,” Esmeralda said. “Are those good clues?”
“I don’t know yet,” I said. “What were you writing about when your word disappeared?”
“I was trying to come up with a name for the concert. I wrote the word down so I wouldn’t forget it.
“Then I remembered that I had to be home for lunch. When I came back later, my word was gone.”
“Can you tell me anything about the word?” I asked.
“Yes,” Esmeralda said. “It’s a long word. A strange word. A made-up word.”
“A strange word will be right at home in Rosamond’s house,” I said.
“Now here comes my best clue,” Esmeralda said.
“When I came back, all the pets were gone too. But Annie’s little brother, Harry, was in the dining room with scissors.
“He was cutting words out of sentences. I thought my word was mixed in with the words he had cut, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.”
I, Nate the Great, knew it was time to go home and think.
I wrote a note to my mother.
Copyright © 2018 by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Andrew Sharmat; illustrated by Jody Wheeler. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.