The Secret Children Spy Recruiters (S.C.S.R.)
Neve, Age 10, Vancouver, BC

Creak! “Be quiet, Agent B, you might wake her,” screeched a crackly voice through the walkie-talkie. ”I’m trying to be quiet,” Agent B’s even more static voice whispered back as he wiped his sweaty hands on his uniform. “I…think…we…are…breaking…up…,” a stunned Agent A exclaimed, for he had bought these walkie-talkies because the package had advertised them as: They never break up! This was obviously not true. He threw away those thoughts. “B,” he yelled, “B can you hear me?” No answer came; all he could hope for was that his friend hadn’t been caught.


“Rena!” my father called as I gave a gigantic yawn. “Breakfast’s ready.” “Coming, Dad,” I yelled back. It was the day after my 11th birthday, and I was really tired. I hauled myself out of bed into my averagely messy room. I made my bed, which consisted of spreading my violet covers lazily around my mattress and tiredly puffing up my baby blue pillows. The handle of my bedroom door was wet with what seemed like sweat. ”Interesting,” I thought to myself (I am very curious). I looked at myself in the mirror; my sea-green eyes had dark circles under them and my auburn hair needed a good brush. I wasn’t the prettiest sight. As I opened the door, I heard a crunching of paper. “Probably only my annoying little brother, Derek, downstairs,” I assumed. I trudged downstairs.

Dad, Mum and Derek were waiting for me, all of them sitting at the table with steaming eggs on their plates. “Derek was too hungry, so we started without you, sorry sweetie,” Mum mentioned apologetically. “That’s o.k.,” I stated, understanding, already helping myself to some scrambled eggs. (When Derek gets hungry, he gets cranky.) After everyone was finished, I walked upstairs to my room. When I opened my door, I heard the crackling sound again. This wasn’t a coincidence. I looked underneath my wooden door and found a folded piece of paper with Rena printed on it in blue script. This was definitely very curious.

I grabbed the piece of paper and pulled. It came out from under my door with a pop. I carefully opened it, making sure not to tear the paper. Inside it read:

Dear Rena Rollber,

You have interested us in your spy abilities. We are from the S.C.S.R. (the Secret Children Spy Recruiters). We pick out a couple of lucky children and give them a riddle to solve. If they solve that riddle they will become part of the department. Most of them never solve it and are most likely still working on it. Here is your challenge:

What tree is always warm in the winter?

Write your answer here:_____________________________________________

After you figure this out, you must find that type of tree with this symbol on it:


Inside you will find something that will let you know that you have completed your challenge.

From: the S.C.S.R.

P.S. This riddle must be solved by Midnight on 05\06\10.

P.P.S. Do NOT share this information with anyone, not even your immediate family.

I was stunned. Why would anyone want me to work for them? “Anyhow, it’s worth a try,” I thought. I worked on the riddle for the rest of the day, but still couldn’t decipher what the answer was. It was terrible. I only had three days left until the deadline.
It was dinner time the next day, and I still hadn’t figured out the riddle. I had gone through all the trees I knew and even through the tree section in the library: Apple tree, Banana tree, Cedar tree, Douglas fir. Douglas fir, that’s it! The answer is Douglas fir! It made sense. The tree that is always warm in winter is the fir (fur) tree. I rushed down the stairs, briefly calling to my parents that I would be back soon and sprinted out the front door. “Look for a tree with a circle in it,” I thought over and over again in my head. At first I looked at every single tree, and then I realized it had to be on a Douglas fir. That narrowed it down a lot. Of course, it was on the last tree I looked at. There it was, a squirrel hole in the shape of a circle. “This must be it,” I thought excitedly. Inside the hole was a walkie-talkie and a frightened squirrel that soon ran out. I spoke into the walkie-talkie. “Is anyone there?” I asked loudly. “If this is Rena Rollber… you…have…reached…your…goal…,” responded the walkie-talkie. “This stupid walkie-talkie is breaking up again,” Agent A thought angrily. Then he paused. ”The connection is getting better,” he questioned. “Did you just fix that? How did you do it?” “1) Yes, 2) with a paper clip I had in my pocket,” I answered curtly. “You are the perfect person, handy with paper clips and smart. Welcome to the S.C.S.R., you qualify!” Agent A congratulated me.

My life was about to change.

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