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Things Could Always Be Worse



Things Could Always Be Worse
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.89

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    backing, chocolate-coated, doorknocker, gnome, gnomes, lanky, phoned, picket, pointed, tweed, streak, makeup, wobbly, crinkly, frustration, palms


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Things Could Always Be Worse
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Tracy looked around her bedroom and felt crowded. Books overflowed from the bookshelf. Stuffed animals overflowed from her bed. Makeup and CDs covered her desk. Clothes were in piles. Tracy liked to have a neat room, but she also liked to collect things. Her room was a mess. She needed help!
 
2     Tracy hopped onto her pink bicycle and rode to visit a wise friend. Tracy's lean, lanky legs pumped the bicycle so fast that all her neighbors saw was a pink blur topped by a streak of black hair. It was a warm spring day, and tender green leaves were uncurling on the trees as if they were happy that it was spring. Tracy rode quickly until she reached a tiny white house that had red shutters and wicker chairs on the porch. Along the white picket fence, yellow, red, and purple crocuses waved shyly as if they were still afraid that a cold winter chill might nip their buds.
 
3     Tracy walked quickly up the curved stone path, and she smiled when she noticed the clay figures of gnomes and fairies peering from behind freshly snipped shrubs. An angel fountain bubbled close to the path. Tracy paused to make a wish by tossing a shiny penny into the water, and it landed with a loud plop! The whole yard seemed magical. As she watched the silver ripples from the penny spread out in the water, Tracy felt her hope expand that her wise friend could help her solve her problem. Tracy stepped carefully up the wobbly porch steps, lifted the tiny doorknocker, and tapped gently three times. A yellow-eyed cat rubbed against Tracy's legs, begging for attention. He left tufts of black fur on Tracy's blue jeans.
 
4     The door opened, and a lady who resembled a gnome peered out. Tendrils of gray hair framed her crinkly face. Her hands were white with flour, so she wiped her palms across her apron before she welcomed Tracy. When she smiled, all her wrinkles turned upward.
 
5     "Hello, Tracy," Mrs. Tweed said. "It is so nice to see you! Please come in, and wait here."
 
6     "Thank you," Tracy said, and she stepped inside. The smell of baking gingerbread greeted her and made her mouth water. The gnomish Mrs. Tweed disappeared into the kitchen. She came back with a tray of cookies and tea and led Tracy into the comfortable sitting room. Potted plants dotted every windowsill. Lace doilies relaxed on the end tables. Four tabby cats slept in a fluffy pile on the sofa. They sleepily opened their eyes and stared at Tracy. She was sure that they were mad about their shortened naps. As they stood and stretched, their tails pointed straight up like exclamation points.
 
7     "Is anything bothering you, dear?" asked Mrs. Tweed, as she offered Tracy a golden gingerbread man covered with frosting and multicolored sprinkles.
 
8     "My room is a mess!" Tracy exclaimed with frustration, as she bit the head off the gingerbread man. Sugar sprinkles sprayed all over the floor.
 
9     "Hmmm," said Mrs. Tweed. "Just remember, things could always be worse,"
 
10     "I don't see how," groaned Tracy. "What can I do? I will do anything except get rid of my things!"
 
11     "I have an idea," said Mrs. Tweed. "Do you have any pets? Do you have a computer?"
 
12     "Yes, we have a hamster and a puppy. We also have a computer," said Tracy.
 
13     "Move your pets and your computer into your room," suggested Mrs. Tweed.

Paragraphs 14 to 27:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable



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