Art Mystery, Part 1 - The Mystery Painting

Art Mystery, Part 1 - The Mystery Painting
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.58

     challenging words:    historian, disgust, immediately, gracious, interstate, nineteenth, spite, theory, tingly, actually, mystery, valuable, interesting, backed, upper, hopping
     content words:    Aunt Rune, New York City, Ima Brush, Georges Seurat, Be Continued

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Art Mystery, Part 1 - The Mystery Painting
By Colleen Messina

1     Brian wrinkled his nose in disgust. It was a nice nose, well shaped and covered with freckles, but it did not like dust.
2     "Achew!" snorted Brian. His eyes were just adjusting to the dim light when his aunt called to him.
3     "Bless you, dear," said Aunt Rune. "Ah, here it is. This is the painting. It is old, and I don't know if it's worth anything."
4     Shelly, Brian, and Aunt Rune were in the attic of her rambling, Victorian house. The children were staying with their aunt while their parents were on a trip. Shelly peered at the canvas. It was large, old, and slightly dirty. She was eleven, and she didn't like the idea of spending two weeks with an old aunt and her obnoxious, 8-year-old brother. But she had no choice.
5     Brian and his sister felt curious about the mystery painting in spite of themselves. The attic was creepy, but the attic window looked out over an apple orchard with a smooth lawn like a green carpet. Gnarly, scratchy apples trees reached out with branches that begged to be climbed. Brian hooted when he saw them and backed right into a spider web, which made him scream. Shelly thought all of this noise was irritating!
6     "My father, who was from Paris, hinted about something valuable in his will. He said it was in the "upper room." But he was a cranky man and never said exactly what the item was. When we inherited his house, we searched through everything in this attic. I expected to find valuable stock certificates or gold coins! But nothing! The only unusual object I found was this old painting."
7     "How can you find out if it's worth anything?" asked Shelly. She was a serious, mousy-haired girl whose brown eyes were full of secrets. In spite of herself, she loved a good mystery! She felt an odd, tingly feeling in her stomach.
8     "We could take it to the museum in New York City. It is over an hour away, but I know an art historian who can help us. I never thought it was worth the trouble...until now!" said Aunt Rune, her eyes sparkling.
9     Brian and Shelly smiled and nodded. They helped their aunt wrap the painting in newspapers and take it out to the car. Brian and Shelly helped Aunt Rune make tuna fish sandwiches for their trip. Then, Aunt Rune called the museum and made an appointment to meet her friend the next morning.

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