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Authors: Gertrude Chandler Warner

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The Clue in the Recycling Bin

BOOK: The Clue in the Recycling Bin
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The Clue in the Recycling Bin

GERTRUDE CHANDLER WARNER
Illustrated by Robert Papp

ALBERT WHITMAN
& Company, Chicago

Contents

CHAPTER

  
1   Treasures Everywhere

  
2   Another Break-in

  
3   Treasures from Scrap

  
4   Tamales and Tea

  
5   Footprints and Key Rings

  
6   The Intruder

  
7   One Solution

  
8   The Bottom of the Boots

  
9   Notebook Time

10   The Diamond Thief

About the Author

CHAPTER 1

Treasures Everywhere

“O
h,” said Violet. “Mrs. McGregor needs help.” Violet, who was ten years old and a bit shy, opened the screen door to let Mrs. McGregor into the sunporch.

“Thank you, Violet,” said Mrs. McGregor as she squeezed through the opening, cradling a big green object in her arms.

At closer look, Henry saw that the big green thing was a metal frog. He guessed that the frog was heavy, so he took it from Mrs. McGregor. At fourteen, Henry was the oldest of the four Alden children. “What would you like me to do with this?” he asked.

“Oh, thank you, Henry,” said Mrs. McGregor, the cook and housekeeper. She worked for James Alden, the children's grandfather and guardian. “How do you think it would look if we put it here, on the floor of the sunporch?”

Henry put the frog down and stepped back to look at it.

“It looks very good,” said twelve-year-old Jessie. “Where did you get it?”

Mrs. McGregor smiled. “I rescued it from the new recycling center that opened last week.”

“Rescued?” asked Benny, who was six years old. “Was the frog in trouble?”

“No,” laughed Mrs. McGregor. “The manager of the new recycling center puts a few things alongside her shed each morning—things she thinks can be reused. When I took my recycling in this morning, I saw this frog alongside the shed. Kayla, the manager, told me I should feel free to take it and reuse it.”

Mrs. McGregor stepped back to look at the big metal animal. “Hmmm,” she said. “I really liked the color of this frog when I saw it. But now I'm not exactly sure how we can reuse this frog.”

“I know!” said Benny. “It's so big, it can guard our sunporch!”

Henry, Jessie, and Violet laughed.

“We already have Watch,” said Jessie. Watch was the dog the Aldens had found and taken in. After their parents had died, the four children ran away and lived in an old boxcar in the woods. They ran away because their grandfather, whom they had never met, was going to be their guardian. They thought he would be a mean person. They turned out to be wrong: Their grandfather was a good person. He found them and brought them to live with him.

“Well,” said Mrs. McGregor as she patted the large metal frog, “the frog can help Watch watch. And now it's time for me to make breakfast.”

As the children helped Mrs. McGregor bysetting the table, they talked about the new recycling center.

“Does it take newspapers and cans and plastic?” asked Jessie.

“Yes, it does,” said Mrs. McGregor.

“What's this I hear?” asked Grandfather as he walked into the kitchen.

“There's a new recycling center right here in Greenfield,” answered Henry. “And it takes newspapers and cans and plastic bottles.”

“That's wonderful,” said Grandfather. “That means I don't have to drive the newspapers to Silver City and the cans and plastics to Elmford. That will mean less use of gasoline.”

Everyone agreed that the new recycling center was a wonderful thing for the town of Greenfield. “The more things we recycle and reuse, the fewer natural resources we use up,” said Grandfather.

“I know what a natural resource is,” announced Benny. “It's trees and land and water.”

“That's right,” said Henry. “If we use oldpaper to make new paper, we save more trees.”

“Oh boy,” said Benny. “Let's take all our old papers down to the new recycling center today!”

Jessie, Violet, and Henry all liked Benny's idea. After breakfast the four children went into the garage and looked at the piles of recycling. There was a cardboard pile and, next to it, a newspaper pile. There was a box filled with metal cans and a big bag of plastic bottles, too.

“We can ride our bikes,” said Henry.

“It's a good thing our bikes all have baskets,” said Jessie. “With four bikes, we can take almost half of what's here.”

“And then we can take more tomorrow,” said Violet.

“I like the name of this center,” said Jessie as they pedaled their bikes through an open gateway. Above their heads was a metal arch with the words “Use It Again Recycling Center.” The entire recycling center was surrounded by a sparkling new chain-link fence.

The Aldens stopped and looked around. Shiny new recycling bins stood in long rows. Each bin was labeled for what went inside. The biggest bin was labeled “Plastic.” Off by itself was a huge Dumpster labeled “Other Stuff.” Near it was a wooden shed. A young woman lifted an old toaster out of the Other Stuff bin and turned around. As she did so, she saw the children.

“Hello,” she said. “Welcome to the new recycling center. I'm Kayla Korty, the manager.”

The children introduced themselves.

“You can lean your bikes against a bin,” said Kayla, “and I'll give you a tour of the place. But first—what do you think of my collection of treasures?”

The children watched as Kayla put the toaster on a shelf that ran along the outside of the shed. Above the shelf was a handwritten sign: “These May Be Treasures.”

The Aldens looked at the things Kayla had on the shelf. Jessie noticed a toaster and a pack of notebooks. Benny noticed two piñatas. Violet noticed a wooden checkerboard without checkers. Henry noticed an old chair that had wooden legs and a wooden back. He could see that the seat of the chair had once been made of woven cane, but that the cane had worn out and broken off. Now there was nothing to sit on.

“I look through the Other Stuff bin each morning,” Kayla said. “If anything looks interesting to me, I pull it out and put it here. Feel free to take any of these things home if you want them. There are treasures in recycling,” she said with a smile.

“Wow!” said Benny. “Look at that bull piñata! It looks just like the one in Tío's Tacos, my favorite restaurant.”

“Oh Benny,” laughed Jessie. “You love food so much that every restaurant is your favorite.”

Kayla handed the red piñata to Benny. “Would you like to take it home?” she asked.

Benny held the piñata. It was very dusty on top, but he thought he could clean it off. “Yes!” he said. “I'll put it in the sunporch with Mrs. McGregor's frog.”

“Frog?” asked Kayla. “You mean that big, green metal frog?”

The children nodded.

“I wish I had never given that frog away,” muttered Kayla.

“Why not?” asked Jessie.

“Oh,” said Kayla, waving her hand in the air, “just because.” She looked at the children. “Benny has a piñata,” she said. “Would anybody else like to take a treasure home?”

Neither Henry nor Violet were interested in anything, but Jessie looked at the notebooks. “This is a whole pack of notebooks,” she said. “And it's unopened.”

Kayla shrugged. “Don't ask me why anybody would throw it away,” she said. “Would you like it?”

Jessie said she would. She liked to use notebooks to make lists.

“I'll keep the piñata and notebooks here in my studio until you're ready to leave,” Kayla said.

“Your studio?” asked Violet. “Are you an artist?” Violet loved art. Although she was shy, Violet was just as smart as her sister and brothers. All of the Aldens loved puzzles and mysteries.

“Come inside and see,” said Kayla. She led the way into the shed. She put Jessie's box of notebooks and Benny's piñata on a table.

The Aldens looked around. They didn't see any paintings. They didn't see any clay.

Henry noticed a table and stool. On the table were small pieces of metal. He saw copper wire and a small soldering iron. “You make jewelry,” said Henry.

“Yes!” said Kayla, clapping her hands. She seemed very happy that Henry had guessed what kind of artist she was. “I find small pieces of old metal—like tin, steel, or copper—and I make jewelry out of them.”

“You recycle the junk into jewelry,” said Jessie with a smile.

“Yes,” said Kayla. “Let me show you—”

She was interrupted by a young man standing outside the shed door. He was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt.

“Hi Kayla,” the young man said. “I'm here to volunteer.”

“Oh, hi Ethan,” said Kayla. Then she frowned. “I'm so glad you're here. It happened
again
last night.”

“Don't worry,” said Ethan. “I'll clean it up.” He turned and walked away.

“Ethan volunteers to help sort the recycling,” Kayla explained.

“I thought people sorted their own recycling once they got here,” said Henry.

“Some people don't take the time to sort their recycling once they get here,” Kayla explained. “They just dump their bags and boxes and leave. But most people take the time to put their items in the right bins.”

“Like we're going to do,” said Violet.

Kayla smiled. “Come outside and I'll show you where everything goes.”

The four children picked up their recycling bundles and followed Kayla as she showed them around the large recycling center. Except for Kayla's studio, the center was filled with row after row of Dumpsters.

“This center is so new and so clean,” said Jessie.

“Yes,” said Kayla. She pointed downward. “Notice the new concrete paving,” she said. “Most of the center is paved so that when it rains, people don't have to walk through mud.”

The Aldens followed Kayla to the first bin.

“Here's where all the cardboard goes,” she said, pointing to an extra-large bin.

Henry lifted his large bundle of cardboard and dumped it into the bin.

Next, Kayla showed them where the glass bottles and jars went. “All the glass goes into one of four bins,” she said.

“I see,” said Jessie. “One is marked
Green
, one is marked
Brown
, one is marked
Clear
, and the other is marked . . .
Other
.”

Kayla laughed. “That's just in case you have glass that's yellow, for example, and you don't know where it goes.”

“Or purple,” said Violet, who loved the color purple. “I've seen purple glass.”

Violet opened a bag they had brought on their bikes and began to drop each glass jar or bottle into the correct bin.

“Let me!” shouted Benny. “I want to drop some bottles.”

Violet gave Benny the bag she was holding. It was filled with clear glass bottles and jars. Benny reached in and pulled a bottle out. In order to drop it into the bin for clear glass, Benny had to stand on his tiptoes. Benny dropped each bottle and jar in, one at a time, until the bag was empty.

“Very good, Benny,” said Kayla. “All that glass will be melted down and used to make new glass bottles and jars.”

Jessie saw that the bin for metal cans was right next to the bins for glass. She opened the bag of metal cans she had brought to the recycling center. At home in their garage, the children had stepped on each metal can in order to crush it. Crushed cans took up less space, so they could fit more in their bag. Kayla watched as Jessie dropped all the metal cans into the bin.

The Aldens also had two bags of plastic bottles. At home they had crushed these flat, too.

Kayla showed the children where the plastics went. Henry dumped the two bags of plastics into the large bin.

“Now you know where to put cardboard, metal cans, glass jars and bottles, and plastics,” said Kayla. “Did you bring any newspapers?” she asked. “Our center collects everything, so you don't have to drive to another town to recycle.”

“Yes, we have newspapers, too,” said Benny. Kayla showed Benny where to put them. Then he looked past Kayla to where Ethan was working. “What's Ethan doing?” asked Henry.

“He's raking leaves,” said Kayla as she walked toward one corner of the recycling center. The children followed.

The children said hello to Ethan and introduced themselves.

BOOK: The Clue in the Recycling Bin
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