Mystery May
The Case of the Porcelain Doll

The Case of the Porcelain Doll
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.74

     challenging words:    antique, celebrity, cubby, curiosity, finest, headmistress, rigorous, unsmiling, miracle, tuberculosis, plaque, miserable, porcelain, reading, newspaper, daydream
     content words:    After Rosalind, Seton School

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The Case of the Porcelain Doll
By Colleen Messina

1     The newspaper photographs showed a smiling girl, but that was only half the story. Annabelle's diary explained what really happened. This is what she wrote:
2     No one, especially me, wanted to go down the halls at night because of the rumors that the building was haunted by Rosalind's ghost. I, Annabelle, was the newest student. I had never have heard the ghost's cries because I cried myself to sleep each night. I was so homesick. The last thing I needed was to hear...or see a ghost!
3     I didn't like the school, and no one spoke to me except to slyly make fun of my frizzy black hair and thick glasses. I had heard the story of Rosalind, which gave me something to think about besides my rigorous schoolwork. Rosalind seemed like an invisible friend because we had sadness in common. I needed a miracle to save my life at this horrible school.
4     According to stories, Rosalind, a young girl who had lived here in 1870, had died of tuberculosis. Her unsmiling portrait still hung in the hallway. Some said that they heard her cries at night because she missed her doll. Others said that the doll had been destroyed because of Rosalind's illness. Still others said the little girl herself had hidden the doll, filled with her parents' coins, and that she had died before she could reveal the doll's location. After Rosalind died, her doll was never found. Her parents were so devastated by her death that they moved away. The house became the Seton School for Girls.
5     None of the popular girls talked to me. I thought that if I could find the doll and its treasure, someone might like me. It was a silly daydream, but it kept my mind off of the open house at the school. My parents lived too far away to come, and I would feel so alone. I was dreading that evening.
6     The night of the party, everyone dressed in their finest satin dresses. Ribbons ran through their curled hair. I tried my best to look happy, but inside I was miserable. I didn't even know the names or faces of most of the girls at school yet, and I had made a plan. I would escape to the library and read during the party.
7     I decided to sneak away after I grabbed a plate of cheese and crackers and green grapes. I just love green grapes! I felt a bit nervous going down the hallway alone, but I didn't think the girl's ghost would cry during a party. As usual, I never looked at the row of portraits in the hall. I didn't ever want to see those people from long ago, especially Rosalind. I slipped into the library and was surprised to see a light on. Another girl in a pink satin party dress sat in a chair. We both smiled shyly.
8     "Are you escaping that boring party too? I did because my parents are not here. There is no reason for me to be there," I said.
9     "My parents aren't here, either," she confided. "I wanted to find a book to read, but instead, I found something better. Look!"

Paragraphs 10 to 18:
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