Listen and read-along with this fun mystery by, Shannon Cudd.
Until last week Delaney was just your average nine-year-old girl in the third grade. Then all of that changed.
One day at school during language arts her teacher Ms. Foster said: “Today we are going to learn about a fancy word called alliteration. Alliteration is when you use the same letter or sounds in words next to or close to each other like a silly snake, curious cat, or awesome alligator.”
Her teacher started assigning each student their own alliteration using their names.
“Josh you will be Joyful Josh. Hannah, you will be known as Helpful Hannah.” Ms. Foster continued down the row of desks giving out fun new names until she reached Delaney.
She paused for a moment. “Hmmm, let’s see. Delaney….Delaney. I know, you can be Delightful Delaney!”
Delaney loved her new alliterative name and from that day forward, she was Delightful Delaney.
The same week her favorite Aunt gave her a spy kit for her birthday.
“You have so many questions and such a big heart I thought this could help you solve all the mysteries in the world,” her aunt gushed.
Delaney was indeed inquisitive and outgoing and loved being around people. But despite all those things, she had one BIG fear.
It was the old house across the street.
This was no ordinary house. It seemed like the sun never shone on this house. The old chipped paint was, at one time, grey, but was now fading to almost white. The front garden didn’t have any flowers, only gnarled and prickly weeds. A skinny creepy black cat lurked by the front door. But the scariest of all was the house’s owner. He was a grumpy, grizzled old man with long frizzy white hair and a scraggly beard, and worst of all…
…HE HAD NO TEETH!
One sunny afternoon Delaney and her little brother, Rhys decided to play baseball in the front yard.
“Okay Rhys, I’m gonna be the pitcher. You’re up!”
Rhys took a couple practice swings. He had been working on his hitting with his Dad.
“Don’t be afraid to swing hard and to keep your eye on the ball…” Dad’s voice echoed in his head.
Rhys puffed up his chest, took a deep breath, and got into batting position.
“Okay, I’m…I’m ready.”
He swung hard and made contact with the ball.
It was a beautiful hit but way too hard. They watched as the ball soared through the air, arched, and landed with a small thud on the front lawn of the…
Delaney and Rhys looked at each other with horror.
“You have to get it because you’re the oldest!” Rhys quickly cried.
Delaney couldn’t argue with that.
She searched the front yard of the scary house to make sure it was “all clear,” then took a BIG breath and zipped across the street.
Standing on the dried, craggly lawn, she darted toward the baseball. Suddenly, she heard a low growl coming from the nearby bushes.
“Nice kitty,” Delaney whispered, easing towards the skinny black cat. “I- I- I just want the ba-ba-ba…”
But before she could finish her sentence the front door creaked open slowly, revealing the house’s owner.
Mr. Grouchy Grizzle Grump.
For a moment, Delaney was frozen to the ground. He was even scarier close up with his squinting eyes and deep wrinkled scowl.
“Hey! You there! What do you want?”
She quickly snapped out of it and squeaked, “sorry. Ju-just getting my baseball.”
She snatched the ball and ran home.
Phew! That was close!
Back in her bedroom, Delaney wondered, ‘how does someone lose all their teeth? Does he need help or is he really a bad guy in disguise?’
Delaney paced, thinking.
“On the one hand,” she muttered. “This is the perfect kind of case for a detective like myself. But on the other hand, Mr. Grouchy Grizzle Grump is SO scary!”
She looked at herself in the mirror.
“Delaney. You are brave and smart. You can do this!”
Convinced, Delaney went into her closet and got out her spy kit.
Like all good detectives, she would first have to do surveillance. Delaney watched the house with her binoculars. Mr. Grouchy Grizzle Grump let the cat out in the morning and got his newspaper. Do people still read newspapers? Delaney wondered. No time. That’s a case for another day.
“Maybe his fingerprints can help me find out his full name and I can look him up online,” Delaney said aloud.
He touches the cat. But…I could never be able to catch it. Plus, it is scary, too. Delaney was almost out of ideas when she decided to use a page from her spy notebook. It taught her that sometimes spies would use everyday objects they gave someone to get information.
Delaney grabbed a piece of paper and a black marker. She drew a picture of a cat. Then using her bright pink marker she wrote;
Something to make you smile.
Delaney carefully folded the note. If all went well, she would have a clean fingerprint after Mr. Grouchy Grizzle Grump opened the note. She just hoped he would throw it away, so she could get it back.
She snuck across the street, put it on the neighbor’s newspaper, and ran quickly to her secret hiding place. She watched as the old man opened the door and slowly bent over to retrieve his newspaper.
Then he saw the note. He picked it up and read it. He glanced around. Delaney quickly ducked back behind the big oak tree.
He didn’t see her, but to her dismay, he also didn’t throw the note away. When the old man went back inside, a disappointed Delaney dashed home to safety.
What am I going to do now?
The next day Delaney came home from school to find Mr. Grouchy Grizzle Grump in her living room talking to her mom. He turned to face her. His eyes pierced her when he scowled, making the wrinkles on his face bigger.
She breathed deeply, trying to calm her jagged nerves.
“There she is,” her mom said, “Delaney, this is Mr. Casper from across the street. He came over to talk to you.”
Delaney’s eyes widened. Oh, no! Her tummy did flip-flops. She wanted to run. She wanted to hide but her feet were frozen to the floor. She wanted to cry out to her mom, ‘why did you let this person into our house?’
Delaney’s mind was spinning, but before she could think or do anything else, Mr. Grouchy Grizzle Grump said,
“Hello, Delaney. Thank you so much for your note. I showed your picture to Boo, my cat, and he loved it!”
“You remind me of my granddaughter who lives in Oklahoma,” the old man continued. “I don’t get to see her much. You and your brother should come over and see me some time. I work on old toy trains.”
He smiled, making his whole face change. His wrinkles almost disappeared and his eyes sparkled. He looked handsome and kind.
But the biggest difference of all was…
HE HAD TEETH! And they glowed white just like in the toothpaste commercials.
It was then that Delaney realized. His teeth were never really missing. She had just never seen the old gentleman smile.
Delightful Delaney Detective and the Case of the Missing Teeth was officially closed!
From that day forward, Delaney and Rhys visited Mr. Casper and Boo often. They loved helping him work on his trains, listening to his stories, and drawing him pictures.
About the Author
Shannon Cudd is a SoCal based writer, actor, and Aunt. She received her BA in Theatre Performance from Chapman University. She has appeared in campaigns for Blue Buffalo and Kitchen Aide and television shows such as Unusual Suspects. She loves spending time with Delaney, Rhys, Braxton and Isla, her nieces and nephews. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @MsShannonCudd
Categories: Audio Stories/Poems