Mystery May
The Cornucopia Mystery

The Cornucopia Mystery
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.14

     challenging words:    all-important, money-hungry, vibrant, traditional, creativity, finding, pried, weakly, needless, amazement, buttery, businesswoman, eccentric, inheritance, wealthy, possibility
     content words:    Thanksgiving Day, Aunt Grace, Cousin Ruth, Uncle Harry

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The Cornucopia Mystery
By Colleen Messina

1     Uncle Harry tapped a crystal glass and shattered the buzz of Thanksgiving Day chatter with its golden tone. He lifted his goblet of rosy liquid and said, "And here is a Thanksgiving toast to our dear Grace, who left us with many happy memories and no regrets." The cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents all paused to remember Aunt Grace and then took a draught of sweet cherry wine.
2     Aunt Grace was wealthy and eccentric. Her long aquiline nose was her most compelling feature. Otherwise, she looked plain and serious. Her sharp black eyes missed nothing, and she retained her shrewd business sense and dry sense of humor until her death six months ago. At the reading of the will, a gaggle of money-hungry relatives appeared. Some of them had never given dear Aunt Grace any time at all, but with the possibility of an inheritance, they suddenly loved Aunt Grace's memory with all of their greedy hearts.
3     Take Cousin Ruth, for example. Ruth had a beauty shop and looked as though she was a walking advertisement for every product on her shelves. Her eyes were rimmed in navy blue eye liner, and her lips looked like a slice of fresh grapefruit covered in Vaseline. Her chameleon-like hair changed moment by moment. At the moment of the funeral, it was platinum blonde.
4     Ruth's sudden concern about dear Aunt Grace seemed ridiculously superficial. She charged into poor Grace's hospital room when she was practically dead and offered to give her a makeover. Grace just smiled weakly and told Ruth that she could do her makeup for the funeral. Ruth was a poor businesswoman and was counting on a chunk of an inheritance from dear Aunt Grace to change her life.
5     Ruth looked hungrily at the Thanksgiving table. The turkey was a gorgeous mound of culinary creativity. Piles of happy cranberries peered over the edges of crystal bowls with fluted edges. Peas and carrots swam in a buttery broth in another dish. Rolls cascaded from their baskets, and candied yams shivered with sugary satisfaction. In the center of the table sat Aunt Grace's traditional cornucopia. Piles of plastic fruit and vegetables spilled out of the conical shape in vibrant rivers of thankfulness. The cornucopia was Aunt Grace's favorite holiday decoration.

Paragraphs 6 to 14:
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