Bait for a Burglar

Bait for a Burglar by Joan Lowery Nixon

Book: Bait for a Burglar by Joan Lowery Nixon Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Lowery Nixon

    B RIAN QUINN TOOK A deep breath and tried to keep his mind on what he was doing. He looked at the other eighth-grade students in his class, then back to the paper he was clutching. It was hard enough to have to read what he’d written to the rest of the class, but what Dad had said this morning bothered him. He couldn’t concentrate.
    â€œThere’s a high-tech burglar loose in Redoaks. We need to upgrade our insurance policy,” Mr. Quinn had said in an undertone to his wife, but Brian had overheard.
    â€œWhat high-tech burglar? Where is he? What are you talking about, Dad?” Brian had asked.
    Mr. Quinn had looked at his watch. “Better hurry, Brian, or you’ll be late for school. I’ll tell you about it this evening.”
    Ms. McGowan, who taught journalism, broke into Brian’s thoughts. “Well, Brian?” she asked. “Are you ready?”
    Brian gulped and nodded. “Death is never good to talk about,” he read somberly. “But yesterday, in Mr. Hightower’s eleven o’clock biology class, death was on every student’s mind. Maybe they didn’t learn how to dissect frogs—which was the lesson of the day. But they learned lessons in life and death and in standing up for one’s beliefs. Four students, who called the frog a creature to be respected, refused to take part in the lesson.”
    Brian added the details of the news story, then said, “The end.” He gave such a loud sigh of relief, his friends laughed.
    Brian laughed, too. He had thought journalism would be an easy A, but every time he had to stand in front of the class and read a news story he’d written, he groaned inside. The kids in the class gave a lot of grief to anyone who made even the slightest mistake. Ms. McGowan was tough, too.
    Up went a hand. Amanda asked, “Brian, what kind of research did you do? Are you sure they were frogs and not toads?”
    Brian reddened, but he said, “Mr. Hightower told us they were frogs. He’s the teacher. He’d know.”
    â€œHow about Mr. Hightower? Did you check him out? Does he have the proper background to teach biology?”
    Ms. McGowan took charge. “Thank you, Amanda, but the research you’re suggesting isn’t important to the story. It’s not about Mr. Hightower’s background or even the frogs. The point of the story is that four students stood up for something in which they believed.”
    â€œGood job,” she said to Brian, “although…” She smiled at him as though they shared a good joke, then went on. “Your story was interesting and informative, but just a little too dramatic.”
    As Brian walked to his seat, Ms. McGowan told the class, “Many reporters tend to get emotional about their stories. It’s a habit that’s easy to fall into. But I want to break you of it now. That’s my job. Your job is to give people information, not opinions. Let your readers or viewers become outraged or sympathetic by your facts, not by your adjectives and adverbs.”
    Brian’s best friend, Sam, reached across the aisle to punch Brian on the arm. “You looked so cool,” Sam whispered. “I have to read my story tomorrow, and I already feel like barfing.”
    Brian tuned Sam out. Ms. McGowan had called Estella Martinez’s name.
    Estella faced the class and said, “My news story has to do with food waste in the school cafeteria.” She began to read, and Brian was impressed with her investigation. Estella hadn’t just interviewed just the cafeteria manager, she’d also interviewed Miss Alice, one of the lunch line attendants, and Mr. Maxx, the custodian. All three gave their opinions about how much food was actually being thrown away.
    When Estella finished, a few of her friends applauded and Estella blushed.
    â€œI know she’s pretty, but stop staring,” Sam whispered to Brian.
    â€œGet lost,”

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