The Missing Camera

By Isabel M.

      Eleven-year-old Elizabeth was sitting down, speechless. She was shocked. With her jaw dropped, she looked as if she was in a trance. She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what to do. Her camera was gone. It was missing.

      “I searched everywhere,” Elizabeth said to herself. “Everywhere! In every spot, in every corner of this house I looked! But yet, my camera wasn’t found. It wasn’t found!”

      With intensity, the words kept ringing in her head: it wasn’t found. Her two sisters helped her look. Her parents helped her look. All Elizabeth could do now was just sit there, and not move. Nobody quite knew how devastated the girl was. She was a passionate photographer. So much so that she couldn’t imagine life without her beloved camera.

      The camera was the most expensive one she had ever had. And it was her favorite one, too. She had some cameras before, but none of them matched up to the performance of this one. She thought it was irreplaceable.

      Life suddenly seemed very strange for Elizabeth, who sat there that afternoon, in the quiet house, in the living room.

      Elizabeth’s two sisters, 9-year-old Sarah, and 14-year-old April were each in their own rooms. Neither could really bare the sight of their sister. The parents, Claire and Gradgrind, were also gone, out of the room. There was nowhere else they could look for the camera.

      Nobody liked it this way. But more than anyone else, the youngest sister, Sarah, didn’t like the gloominess in the air. The house wasn’t the same without Elizabeth’s cheerfulness. Sarah wanted to change this. She moved about, and paced with doubt. Finally, she thought it was a good idea to see her sister, and try to make her happy again.

      Sarah walked into the living room. She sat down next to her sister. Elizabeth didn’t blink. She didn’t move.

      “I can’t believe your camera is gone,” Sarah said. “It’s a mystery indeed.”

      In her best encouraging voice, Sarah added: “But you know, Elizabeth, there’s a lot more cameras where that came from.”

      Elizabeth was deep in thought. “She doesn’t quite understand. My camera was the best,” she said to herself.

      “You know, it’s getting late Elizabeth. Don’t you think you should go to bed, and perhaps wake up without thinking of your camera?” Sarah attempted yet again, but nothing seemed to work. After trying, and trying, and trying, and trying to make her sister happy, it was 10 p.m. Sarah went on for about two hours. Her sister was pretty upset. The girls were told to go to bed by their mother, and Elizabeth, practically had to be forced to go to bed.

      Early the next day, everyone was at the kitchen table for breakfast. Nobody was really all that happy, besides April, the oldest sister.

      “I’ve got an awesome idea!” April said. “I’m going to help Elizabeth find her camera!” The family looked at her, wondering how she was so content, and so sure of herself.

      “April,” Gradgrind began, “I know things are sad right now, and you’re trying to help out. But, we don’t want anybody’s hopes getting high now.”

      “But daddy!” She continued. Believe me, it’s going to work!!! Look, here’s the plan! I’m going to give it specifically to my friends!” She gave her father a sheet of paper. It said this:

Just yesterday morning, my sister lost her camera. She’s very sad about it. We all are. You see, she was in the backyard, swimming. Mom was in the garage, working on something, and also watching Elizabeth. I was gone at my friend’s house, and so was our youngest sister. Daddy was at work. It was then when Elizabeth first realized her camera was gone. It could’ve been that she left her camera on the chair next to the pool, and it slid off on the hole that was next to the chair. Again, mom wouldn’t know, because she was only watching Elizabeth, and didn’t really pay attention to the chair. We don’t know. It also may be that she left her camera in the house somewhere, and it got lost, and she totally forgot about it. This is because she was really excited about swimming, and nobody else was thinking about her camera. Otherwise, we would’ve been able to detect where it last was. Again, she was pretty upset about it gone. Nobody ever found it, though. It’s a mystery where it is.
Anyway, I thought of an idea to find this camera. We’re all going to look super hard around our house, today, all right everybody? Sure, our family already did, but you all, my friends, could double check! Come on friends, do it for my sister! You never know where it is. It could be that when me and the rest of the family looked, we may have skipped something. Who knows. But today, at 3:00, I would like us all to gather and do this!

Gradgrind read this paper.

      “You know, April,” he began, “this may be impossible. Who knows where that camera really is. It’s hopeless. We already looked everywhere This plan wouldn’t work.”

      April was no longer all smiles. The table was sad again. Her father said it, and it was final. The plan wouldn’t work.

      It was a dark and gloomy day.

      And so was the next day. And the next. And the day after that.

      Finally, about a week past. Elizabeth was getting used to the idea of living without her one, irreplaceable camera. But she was still sad.

      Sarah had gone back to everyday life, doing what she always did before the camera was lost. Today, she was on a mission to look into April’s cabinets to read her diary!

      Sure enough, that day, April went to her friend’s house, and the rest of the family was busy doing things. This was Sarah’s chance. She was, indeed, successful.

      Coincidentally, the first page she randomly stumbled upon while opening the notebook was this:

My sister is devastated, because her camera is gone. Poor her! She looked all over the house for it. She acts like it’s the end of the world. “Waaaaaaaaaaa! I can’t find my camera!” Is what is sounds like she might as well say. Anyways, when she was absorbed in the pool, and mom was in the garage, I took my chance, snatched her camera, and hid it by the flowers. Deep in the dirt, too. They didn’t notice it. So much so that I had plenty of time to do it. She deserved it. She always wants to make fun of me. She always told me to “wash the dishes” if I want to earn a camera. “I did it myself!” She said. Whatever. Anyways, that’s what’s going on. Me? I’m enjoying the peacefulness in this house. But the rest of the family is feeling sorry for my sister. I’m just faking to feel sorry. In fact, I made a plan for me and my friends to “search” for the camera. To make it seem like I’m the great sister, mwahahahahaha 😉 However, my friends would act like they didn’t find it. When they actually could help me put the camera deeper in the dirt!

Amazingly written by,

— April the Cool One

      Sarah ran to the kitchen, where her mother was at. She ran. And ran. And ran! She was so content, so happy, because — finally — the mystery of the missing camera was solved.

      When she reached the kitchen, she screamed out loud, “MOM! MOM, LOOK AT THIS! DADDY!!! QUICK!!! COME HERE!!!” Hearing the screams, Claire and Gradgrind moved as fast as lightning.

      “What is it?” Gradgrind said. “What’s got you screaming your head off?”

      Sarah handed him Aprils’ diary and Gradgrind read the entry about the camera aloud. Both of the parents were shocked. Full of fury. They were angry indeed.

      “Wow!” Gradgrind said. He went outdoors, to grab the camera. He managed to dig deep, and took it out.

      April, was in the middle of painting her nails, across the street, upstairs, at her friend’s house. She was enjoying her time.

      Claire quickly walked across the street.

      “April!” She said to her daughter, looking up at the open windows upstairs. “You’re in trouble. I suggest you come down here. NOW.” She tried to say this calmly, but, you can imagine, she was really quite upset.

      April’s friend looked at April. April was totally embarrassed. But do you think her mother cared? No. (And she shouldn’t have cared either.)

      The mother of April’s friend opened the door.

      “What on earth is going on out here!?” The mother said. Her daughter, and April, were now behind her, at the door.

      “My daughter is in trouble. I’ll talk later. For now, I’m going to take her home.” Claire looked hard at April, but tried to stay polite in front of the neighbor. And, again, tried not to lose her temper. They walked across the street. April didn’t say a word. But she knew she was obviously in trouble.

      She was inside now. The whole family was at the kitchen table: the parents, and April, of course, and also Sarah and Elizabeth. They all looked at April. Still, she didn’t dare say a word, since she was picked up at her friend’s house. Everybody knew about the paper, and Elizabeth was all smiles, with her in-perfect condition camera in her hand. But of course, it had to be cleaned up a little bit because it had been buried in dirt.

      “You don’t want to do the dishes, I see,” Gradgrind said. “So, your jealously made you go, take your sister’s camera, didn’t it? Your jealousy, and lack of wanting to earn something. You stole, and you made your sister upset.”

      All eyes were on April now. And Sarah couldn’t help but to sneak in a laugh.

      “You’re going to do all these dishes,” Claire spoke up, “breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes! All of them! Two months straight! Nobody will be allowed to help you! And did I mention, your use of Facebook? NO FACEBOOK! NOT AT ALL! For six months! Apparently, you’re not mature enough to handle it. Oh yes, and did I mention, you’re cleaning this whole house tonight? That’s right. All of it. Now explain, why did you do this?!?!”

      April looked around the table. She was still nervous, but then, more evilness kicked in. This wasn’t just about a camera now. Her younger sisters were ruining her reputation. And she did not want this to pass without protest.

      “Well mom,” April quickly said without much thought, “Sarah read my diary, did she not? What about her? Doesn’t she get any punishment?”

      Of all the crazy things she said in her life, that was the craziest! She shot herself in the foot.

      “Wow!” Elizabeth said. “You falsely accused my sister, my kind sister, Sarah!”

Now Claire piled on the punishment. Lots of dishes. And lots of cleaning. Claire was fuming. And the rest of the family was upset with April, too.
      The day came to an end. Everybody went to bed. Except for one. April had to do her math.

      The family went on and enjoying their time, while April suffered for what she did.

      Eventually, after about a few months, April went to apologize. And it was a sincere apology. April was honestly, truly feeling sorry. It was too bad, though, that she didn’t learn sooner, before causing a photographer’s nightmare.

      But at least it was over. And it ended well. Eventually, everybody, including April, were all on a happy high.

And April never did a foolish thing like that again.

The End


How Kids Can Build A Website For Free | Part 4 of 4

      This post is the last installment of my four-part series, How Kids Can Build A Website For Free. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here. To read part three, click here.

      Yesterday, you built your website, learned about site maps, created your website’s CSS, etc. Those are the hard things to do, so today you’re going to be doing easier tasks.

      The first thing you’re going to do is validate your website. When you validate your website, you are checking the code, to make sure you didn’t forget a bracket or anything like that. You can try it out here. An easier version to understand can be found here. The easier one doesn’t have confusing things like, “which encoding would you like?”

      If your website isn’t validated, you should read the previous blog posts I wrote, and revisit Lissa Explains It All. There might be something missing there that you didn’t understand. Another great thing to try are the forums of Lissa Explains It All. 000webhost also offers a help center if you’re confused about your website’s code.

      You also are going to need to make your website search engine optimized. There’s really no point in having a website when it’s not indexed by the major search engines — Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Making your website search engine optimized is very simple to do. All you have to do is add a description like this in the head section of your webpage:

      <meta name=”description” content=”Write in a paragraph or less what your website is about here.” />

      This description shows up when someone Googles your site. You’re also going to need keywords, which are also words people “google.” For example, if someone were to “google” landscaping, they would find your website, because you added “landscaping” as a tag. You wouldn’t be indexed on the first few pages though, unless you’re website that has been around for a long time, and lots of other websites have linked back to you. That’s why, for example, if you were to do a website design for someone, it would be smart if you told them to write that you designed the website, and include a link back to your site. Here’s the code to add keywords to your website:

      <meta name=”KEYWORDS” id=”mKeywords” content=”landscaping, snow, removal, landscape, installation, maintenance”>

      That should also be included in the head section of your webpage.

      You should also double-check everything else on your website. Make sure there are no broken links. This is neccesary, if, for example, you added a link to but meant to write You should also make sure you didn’t misspell anything, or have incorrect grammar.

      The last thing to do is optional. You can purchase a domain, but it isn’t fully necessary, depending on what type of website you have. A domain can make your website look more professional. Nobody can remember as easily as So when you purchase a domain, you basically have a shorter URL, that’s easy to remember.

      Tomorrow you’ll learn how to create a blog!

The Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas

      Today I learned about the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Incas.

The Aztecs lived primarily in area known today as Mexico, the Mayans lived in Central America, and the Incas lived along South America’s western edge (i.e. Peru) during the 16th century. A map of this area — called Mesoamerica — is shown on the right. Mesoamerica literally means “middle America” in Greek.
      These were the people encountered by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Although the Spanish took over their land, there are still millions of Mayan, Inca, and Aztec descendants today.
      Here’s a chart that shows their similarities and differences:




Located near present-day Mexico


Live in Central America


Located along South America’s Western edge (i.e. Peru)


Houses made of stone bricks or mud (adobe)


Most houses made of adobe



Practiced human sacrifice




Sacrificed victims in temples or on mountaintops



Sacrificed victims in wells


Believed human sacrifice was necessary to “feed the gods”




Conquered by Spanish forces led by Hernando Cortes


Conquered by Spanish forces led by Francisco Pizarro


To learn more, you can read the book Aztec, Inca, and Maya which can be found on Amazon here.

The Importance Of Learning US History

      Today I learned more about the importance of learning history.

      Author Joy Hakim of the A History Of US says that the study of history is important because it is the story of your own story, and the story of your country. She believes that history is important to Americans in particular. This is because most Americans do not share a common background. In most nations, the citizens have a common background, and usually worship in the same church.

      Joy wrote in her book:

      “I believe the United States of America is the most remarkable nation that has ever existed. No other nation, in the history of the world, has ever provided so much freedom, so much justice, and so much opportunity to so many people.”

      Although America has made some mistakes, such as slavery, and still makes mistakes, Joy still believes it’s the best country in the world because “usually this nation can, and does, correct its mistakes.”

      If someone told this author, “All nations make mistakes, so no nation is better than any other nation!” I think she would say that because America is based on a better idea than other nations, so she still thinks it’s the best. She says in her book that America was created by people who wanted liberty, justice, and opportunity. She didn’t say that about other countries.

      Source used:
A History of Us 3rd Edition by Joy Hakim

Leif Eriksson Part II

      Today I learned that Leif Eriksson spread Christianity to Greenland.

      On a trip to Norway, King Olaf of Norway invited Leif to be in his court and bodyguard. According to

      “He required members of his bodyguard to be Christians as well, and so was able to convert Leif to Christianity. He then commissioned Leif to spread Christianity throughout Greenland. Leif returned and spread his new faith around the country with the priest that King Olaf sent with him.”

      His father, Erik the Red, wouldn’t convert and tried to stop Leif from spreading Christianity. Erik the Red’s wife, however, did convert.

      Here are some other interesting facts about Leif Eriksson:

      In Chicago, there is a statue of Leif Eriksson (see my photos below). It was built in the early 1900’s by Sigvald Asbjornsen and was paid for by the Norwegian community. The statue was built on top of a big boulder and has the words, “Leif Eriksson Discoverer of America.” However, if you visit the statue today the words are barely visible.

      In 1927, the Chicago Norwegian community was upset that the textbooks in the schools taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. One person said that it was “teacing un-Americanism.” Then Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson never resolved this problem and was instead worried about King George of England.

      Proof that Leif Eriksson really did discover America was found years later. See my blog post from yesterday.

      Italian Americans in Chicago were very careful to avoid saying that Columbus discovered America In a 2011 press release promoting the Columbus Day Parade saying, “The Columbus Day Parade celebrates Christopher Columbus and his monumental voyage which was first acknowledged in Illinois in 1963 when it became a legal holiday in the state.”

      Leif Eriksson was the first European to visit America, but Christopher Columbus’ visit here changed the course of history.

      For kids: There are coloring pages and activity books available on Leif Eriksson and Norway. There is a Viking girl coloring page shown here and a Viking boy coloring page shown here. There is also a Norway activity book here.

      Other sources used:
Before Columbus by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Ethnic Chicago by Richard Lindberg
Leif Eriksson by Michael Burgan

Leif Eriksson Part 1

      Today I learned about Leif Eriksson, the first European to discover America about 500 years before Columbus.

      We know this because of archeology and sagas. Sagas are books that tell history and tales about Vikings. They were written in Ireland. We know these sagas are true because in the 1960’s two archaeologists found a small Norse village in Canada, which was proof that Leif Eriksson had visited North America.

      Incidentally, I have seen Leif Eriksson spelled many different ways — Eriksson, Erikson, Ericson, and Ericsson. For this blog post, I will spell it as Eriksson.

      Leif Eriksson’s father was Erik the Red (also spelled Eric). In 983, when Erik the Red took part in an outbreak of killings, he was forced to leave Iceland for three years. Because of this, Erik the Red decided to set sail when he discovered Greenland. Once the Vikings settled in Greenland, Leif Eriksson wanted to sail west and planned for his father to be in charge of the ship. Instead, his father became injured after riding a horse, and Leif Eriksson was in charge of the ship.

      Leif Eriksson was known as “Leif the Lucky” because he saved some sailors off the coast of Greenland. From Greenland, he sailed west in search of new lands. He found the main part of what is now called North America, becoming the first European to set foot on that continent. Leif called the new land Vinland because of all the wild grapes (or grassy fields) he found there.

      Leif Eriksson traveled with ships that were made of wood, and were the best ships in northern Europe in the 8th century. Before Columbus says that, “On the bow of the ship was a carved dragon. Many Vikings placed these dragon heads on the front of their ships to ward off evil sea spirits. Leif loved the way that it looked, extending out from the tip of the ship to glide over the waves.”

      Tomorrow Part II.

      Sources used:
Before Columbus by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Ethnic Chicago by Richard Lindberg
Leif Eriksson by Michael Burgan

Bering Land Bridge

      Today I learned about the Bering Land Bridge.

      The Bering Land Bridge was a land bridge that connected eastern Siberia to Alaska during the Ice Ages. The bridge helped people and animals travel to America during the Ice Ages about 12,000 years ago. It is believed that the first people to populate America came from Siberia using this bridge, before Christopher Columbus ever came to America. Some animals, such as the Wolly Mammoth and the Saber-Tooth cat, first traveled to America using this bridge.

      The Bering Land Bridge no longer exists because the ice melted with the end of the Ice Age. This bridge is now under the Bering and Chukchi Seas, according to the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve.

      You can learn more about the bridge here: