Clue Books

Copyright 2007,2012 Akiva Lane, All rights reserved 

1. Bobby Kramer was sending emails to his high school friends one afternoon, when he received an unusual email.  “I’m from a distant galaxy, and I’m a being of superior intelligence.  I’ve hacked into Earth’s email, and I’ve learned English. After reading through lots of emails, I’ve chosen to email with you.”  Bobby showed the email to his younger sister Judy.  They laughed. Bobby played along with this new ‘buddy’, building an email friendship.  Bobby and Judy gave the “Alien” the name “Allie” for short, and they were humored and a bit suspicious of Allie as they chatted with him.

2. It was summer, and Bobby and Judy were helping their father in his jewelry store.  One day, their father took them into the room with the safe, and said, “I have something special to show you.”  He opened the safe, and took out a beautiful Chinese porcelain pot.  Inside was a purple cloth.  He took out the purple cloth, and when he unfolded it he showed them six beautiful gems.  “These are very rare and precious jewels”, he told them.  “They’re from an ancient Chinese collection.  I’ve borrowed heavily to buy them, and I can make a big profit from selling them.”

3. That afternoon a tall man in a black rain coat came into the store, saying he had heard about the Chinese jewelry collection, and he wanted to take a look at the jewels.  He looked at each stone very carefully.  When he was told the price, he said, “Though I represent a group that would love to buy these beautiful gems, the price is just too steep for us. Good luck with them.”

4. The next day, two men came in also saying they had heard about the Chinese jewels.  After examining them, they said they were willing to pay the price that Mr. Kramer was asking for them.  They took out a thick envelope of bills.  After Bobby and his sister counted the bills, Mr. Kramer gave the jewels to the two men.  They said, “These will find a good home in the museum that we represent.  They are very beautiful jewels.”  They shook hands. 

5. Mr. Kramer went to the bank to deposit the money, and he repaid the loan.  When he returned he said to Bobby and Judy, “At the end of the summer, we’ll go on a beautiful vacation with part of the profit from this sale.”

6. A few days later, the two men who had bought the jewels returned.  They said that an appraiser had examined the jewels carefully, and found that they were fakes. “Take back the counterfeit jewels.  The people we represent said that we must have the real jewels or our money back.”  They looked quite angry, and then left.

7. Mr. Kramer looked shocked and very worried.  He took Bobby and Judy into the back room, and said, “My insurance doesn’t cover the price of these jewels.  If I have to pay back for the jewels, we will be ruined – all our years of building the business will be over.”

8. When Mr. Kramer came home with Bobby and Judy, he told his wife.  Over dinner, they were trying to figure out what happened.  “I had the jewels appraised when I bought them.  What happened to the real jewels?  If we don’t find out, we’ll be financially ruined.”

9. Bobby went into his room, and emailed Allie, telling him what happened.  A few minutes later Allie sent back an email. “I’ve read lots of other emails, and I’ve figured out what happened.  However, unfortunately I can’t tell you.  I have permission to email you. But I’ve been told that to reveal to you what happened is to interfere with your free will.  However, I think there is something that I can do to help. I’ll get back to you soon.”

10. Later that evening, Bobby got another email from Allie. It said, “In the past, people on the Earth have been recommended books that contain clues about how to solve their problems.  So I’ve scanned many books, and here is what I can do for you.  I’m going to recommend six children’s books to you.  They contain clues about your situation. If you read them in the order I recommend, you may be able to figure out how to solve your situation.”

11. Bobby couldn’t believe what he was reading.  After a moment’s hesitation, he invited his parents and Judy into his room, to read the email on the screen.  He explained to them about Allie.  He said, “I don’t know whether to take this seriously or not.”  Just then, Allie sent another email. “These are the books that I recommend.” 

The King’s Fountain, by Lloyd Alexander
The Empty Pot, by Demi.
The Lost Kingdom of Karnica, by Richard Kennedy
Mr. Tamarin’s Trees, by Kathryn F. Ernst
Mirette on the Highwire, by Emily Arnold McCully
The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen

“If you read these books in the order I listed them, you may be able to figure out what happened.  It’s the best that I can do.  I’ve checked, and they are all available in your local library. Good luck. 

12. Mr. and Mrs. Kramer, and Bobby and Judy, sat in their living room – discussing this email.  Finally, Mr. Kramer said, “Frankly, I don’t know what else to do.  I don’t know if this is a prank or not, but who knows…. Let’s take the books out from the library, and see what they say.”

13. They took out the six books.  Mrs. Kramer read the first book, The King’s Fountain, to the rest of the family.  In the story, the King planned to have a magnificent fountain built.  Most of the people in the kingdom lived in a village below the king.  A man from the village realized that the king’s fountain would take away most of the drinking water from the village.  The man knew that someone should tell this to the king.  He went to a wise man, who didn’t want to go because his head was in the clouds.  Then he asked the clever merchant to go, who could speak clever sentences, but he was too caught up in his own words.  He went to the strongest man, the blacksmith, who was too angry and violent.  Then the man’s little daughter said, ‘Why don’t you go?’ He had no choice, so without special cleverness or strength, he went to see the king.  At first the King was angry.  But then he saw the simple truth of the man’s words, and agreed not to build the fountain.

14. The four of them sat in silence, wondering what message this book was meant to provide.  Then Judy said, “I think the clue is very simple.  It says that WE can figure this out – that WE can do it.  All we have to do is try.  Allie is saying that he is confident that we can find the real jewels.  So I think we should continue, and see what clues are in the other books.”

15. Mr. Kramer read the next book, The Empty Pot.  It was about a boy named Ping, who loved to grow flowers.  The Emperor of China handed out seeds from flowers to all the children of China, saying, “Whoever can bring me back their best within the year, will be next Emperor of China.”  Ping couldn’t get his seed to grow.  The next year, all the other children brought beautiful flowers.  But Ping brought only his empty pot.  When the Emperor saw all the beautiful flowers, he looked sad. But when he saw Ping’s empty pot, he said, “I have found the next Emperor of China.  I don’t know where you all got your seeds from.  The seeds I handed out were all boiled.  Ping had the courage and the honesty to bring an empty pot.”

16. They sat quietly for a few minutes.  Then Bobby said, “I get it!  The empty pot represents our Chinese pot of fake jewels, because there were no real jeweles in it..  Someone put fake jewels into our Chinese pot.  There’s only one person who could have done that – the first person who saw the jewels.  He must have taken the real jewels, and put fake jewels in their place.  So we were left with an ‘empty Chinese pot’ without the real jewels.  But that leaves the question, where are the real jewels?”

17. Barry picked up the third book, The Lost Kingdom of Karnica, and started reading it.  It told the following story:  In the land of Karnica, some farmers were digging and hit a red rock.  As they tried to dig it up, they found it was quite large.  They chipped off bits of it, and found they could sell the chips because they were valuable gems.  Word got to the King, who sent his own crew to dig up the large gem.  The area of digging got larger and larger, until it took up the entire farm, and then nearby farms.  The King had visions of how rich he would become.  They got to the border of the Kingdom on one side, and the sea on the other.  Then they used ships to try to yank the enormous gem out.  The gem came out, fell into the sea, and the sea filled in what used to be the Kingdom of Karnica.

18. Mrs. Kramer said, “It’s an interesting story, but what clue could it be telling us – or really what clue could Allie be telling us, if in fact Allie really is who he says he is?”  Mr. Kramer said, “I have an idea.  The people who stole the real jewels don’t want to be caught with them.  So maybe they buried them somewhere, and perhaps that’s the clue.”  They looked at each other, and then Mr. Kramer picked up the fourth book and started reading.

19. The fourth book was Mr. Tamarin’s Trees.  Mr. Tamarin had a lot of trees on his property, but he hated raking the leaves every fall.  Just when he thought he had raked the last leaf, more leaves fell.  One day he said he had enough of raking leaves, and he took out a chain saw, and cut down all his trees.  When he was done, he said that he was overjoyed that he wouldn’t ever have to rake leaves again.  Mrs. Tamarin said that perhaps he would regret what he had done, but he said he was happy that he did it.  His property now had tree stumps from one end to another.  There was no protection from the wind, sun, rain, and snow.  The land was a muddy mess.  They tried to sell the house, but now one wanted just a property with tree stumps.  So one day, he realized the error of his ways, and planted new trees. Quite a few years later he was happy when, during the fall season, a leaf fell down near himl.

20. Barry got up all excited.  He said, “You know the forest on Stony Mountain near our country cabin, the one that the logging company cut down last year.  I was looking at it a few months ago, and it’s just tree stumps as far as you can see.  The logging company put a tall fence around the whole forest, but there’s a way to get to the top of the mountain from a path near our country cabin – there are two rope bridges over a big ravine.  That’s the only forest that’s been cut down anywhere near here.  I have a hunch that Allie is trying to tell us that the robbers buried the jewels there.”  Mr. Kramer got up, and said, “Hey, it’s worth a try, let’s go have a look.”

21. They got in their car, and after 25 minutes got to their country cabin.  They drove a bit further to the ravine.  Much to their surprise, the two rope bridges that had been made to go over the ravine had been cut.  One was hanging from the edge near where they were standing., and the other one was hanging from the other edge.  They could see the field of tree stumps on the other side of the ravine.  They stood and stared.  Suddenly, Judy said, “What are we waiting for?  I brought in my pack the last two books.  Maybe they’ll contain clues about what we can do now.”  She took out the fifth book, and started reading.

22. The fifth book was called Mirette on the High Wire.  Mirette lived with her mother, a widow, who ran a boarding house in Paris.  It was known as a place where traveling actors and jugglers would stay.  One day a tall man came and rented a room in the back, on the ground floor.  The next morning Mirette saw that he had stretched a rope across the backyard, and was walking across it.  She said, “Can you teach me that?”  He resisted, but she insisted.  After many attempts she learned how to walk across.  Another guest, who was an impresario, saw the tall man, and told the other guests it was the famous Bellini, who had walked across the Niagara Falls, and between two mountains in the Alps.  Mirette ran to Bellini, and said, “Is it true?”  He said, “Yes, I became afraid, but once you are afraid on the wire, the fear never leaves you.”  She ran away, crying.  Bellini then went to the impresario saying that he wanted to do a high wire walk over the street, with the wire tied between the tops of the houses.  That night, the street was packed, and a spotlight shown on Bellini starting to walk from one end of the wire tied to the top of the buildings. But then he froze.  Mirette knew what was wrong.  She ran up the stairs in a building near her, and then started walking across the wire from the other side.  They met in the middle, to the tremendous roar of the crowd.  They became a traveling act, Mirette and Bellini.

23. The Kramer’s looked across the ravine, and at the two rope bridges that have been cut.  Barry got up, “This clue is obvious.”  He pulled up the rope bridge hanging from their side, and tied two of the longest pieces securely together.  He tied one end to a tree, and then took a tire jack from the car and tied it to the other end of the rope.  He then threw the rope across the ravine, and it wrapped around a stump of a tree on the other side.  “This is secure, I’m going across.”  Just then Judy got up, and said, “No, Mirette is a girl, and I’m a lot lighter than you are.”  Before they could stop her, she had grabbed the rope with both hands, and with her hands over her heads, started inching her way across the ravine.  The Kramer’s were in shock.  It took about five minutes, and Judy managed to get to the other side.  She took the other rope bridge, and tied it to the end of rope she had just used.  Barry and his father, using the end of the rope bridge that was still on their side, pulled the whole rope bridge tight.  They fastened it securely to the mooring where it had been before.  Slowly they crossed over the rope bridge to the other side, joining Judy.  They stared at the endless scene of tree stumps.  Mrs. Kramer said, “Even if Allie really is an Alien, and even if we’ve figured out every clue so far, how could we possibly find the buried jewels in such a large area?”

24. Barry said, “Well, there’s one more book.  I’ve brought Judy’s pack, and here’s the book.”  He opened the last book, The Seeing Stick.  He started reading it aloud to the other Kramer’s who were listening very carefully.  The story was about the daughter of the Emperor of China who was blind.   The Emperor said he would give a great reward to anyone who could enable her to see.  Many doctors tried, but no one could help.  An old man heard about the reward, and started the journey to the Emperor’s palace.  Along the way, he would carve - into his walking stick - images of what happened on his journey.  When he got to the palace gate, he said that he had come to help the Emperor’s daughter see.  The guards made fun of him.  He felt their faces, and carved pictures of their faces into this walking stick.  They were amazed, and they let him in.  He told the Emperor that he could help his daughter see.  He then carved things into the stick, and taught the Emperor’s daughter about the images that were on the stick.  The girl smiled for the first time in her life, taking great pleasure in learning about the world from the images carved into the stick.  The Emperor was greatly pleased that his daughter was finally happy.  He then gave the old man, who was also blind, a great reward.

25. The Kramers looked at the endless rows of tree stumps.  Then Mrs. Kramer said, “I got it.  How would the robbers know themselves where they buried the jewels?  They probably carved something on the tree stump where they buried the jewels.”  Without hesitating, the Kramers started feeling all the tree stumps for some carvings.  It was tiring work, but they were very excited.  Suddenly Barry yelled, “I’ve got it.”  They all ran over to his tree stump, and sure enough, there were carvings that had recently been made into its wood.  Barry ran back over the bridge, and brought back four shovels from their cabin.  They started digging, and to their amazement, Mr. Kramer hit something.  They pulled out a metal box.  They opened the box, and there were the jewels.

26. They ran back over the bridge, and called the people who had bought the jewels, saying that they had located the real jewels.  They met them at the store, and handed over the jewels.  Mr. Kramer said, “You’ll have to believe me, but the jewels had been stolen, and we found them, and here they are.”

27. The Kramer’s drove back home.  Barry immediately went to his computer, and emailed Allie. “I can’t thank you enough.  Thanks for the clue books.  We found the jewels.”  Allie wrote back, “I knew you could figure it out.  And I was able to do it without interfering with your free will.  All intelligent beings should help each other, and I’m glad I could help.  Every person is given many ‘clue books’ in their life. If only they could use the clues in the books! Anyway, I’ve been told that I’ve interfered with your lives too much already. It’s been great knowing you and your family. Good bye and good luck!”