“But how can party invitations just disappear?” Nancy Drew asked. She stopped right in the middle of the side walk and looked at her friend.
“Don’t ask me,” Rebecca Ramirez moaned. “All I know is my birthday party is ruined. Now no one will come!” She stuck out her lower lip and pouted.
Nancy took Rebecca’s hand and started walking down the tree-lined street again to Carl Sandburg Elementary School. They were in third grade there.
Both eight-year-old girls lived just a few blocks from school. This was the first year that Nancy’s and Rebecca’s parents had let them walk to school. For two weeks now, they had walked together every day.
They lived on different streets. But every morning Nancy stopped to pick Rebecca up. They were starting to be good friends.
“I’ll come to your party,” Nancy said. Then she put her hand over her mouth. “Oops! I mean, if I’m invited.”
“Of course you are, silly,” Rebecca said. “I’m only allowed to invite eight people, though, because it’s a slumber party.” She told Nancy whom she was inviting.
“Well, why don’t you just ask every one to come?” Nancy said. “Then when you find the invitations, you can give them out.”
“No, no, no,” Rebecca said. “You don’t understand. The invitations aren’t lost. They’ve been stolen!”
“Stolen?” Nancy said.
“Okay,” Nancy said. “Tell me everything.”
Rebecca sighed dramatically. “I don’t know why I’m even going to school. I should go back home and spend the rest of my life in bed!”
Nancy brushed her reddish blond bangs out of her eyes and smiled. Rebecca was acting upset. Acting was the right word, too. Nancy knew that Rebecca wanted to be an actress when she grew up. She always made a big drama out of everything.
She’s probably acting more upset than she really is, Nancy thought. Still, a party was important. Especially a slumber party! This would be Nancy’s first one.
“Here’s the worst part,” Rebecca went on. “I made the invitations myself. It took three hours! I put a party favor in each one. So the favors are gone, too!”
“Maybe that’s why someone took the invitations,” Nancy said. “For the party favors.”
“You could be right,” Rebecca said. “They were really pretty, too — hair clips made with lots of tiny rainbow ribbons.”
Nancy frowned. “I would love to have a rainbow ribbon hair clip,” she said. “Maybe I can help you get them back.”
“Really?” said Rebecca. She flipped her long black hair over her shoulders. “But how?”
“I’ll start by asking you questions, ” Nancy said. She thought for a minute. “When did the invitations disappear?”
“I don’t know,” Rebecca said. “I had them yesterday. I don’t have time to make more. My party is this Friday night.”
“This Friday?” Nancy asked. She was surprised. It was already Wednesday.
Rebecca groaned. “I told you it was a big problem. My mom forgot to mail the invitations. I was going to hand them out in school today.”
“Wow. We really have to hurry,” Nancy said. “Where were the invitations the last time you saw them?”
“I put them on the kitchen counter by the back door last night,” Rebecca said. “Then I went to take a bath.”
“Maybe the invitations aren’t really stolen,” Nancy said. “Maybe you just can’t find them. Let’s look for them after school.”
“I’ve already looked. Twice!” Rebecca said in a huffy voice.
Nancy grinned. “But I didn’t look yet. I’m very good at finding things. I find my dad’s keys all the time.”
“Okay.” Rebecca smiled for the first time that morning. “Maybe you can find them. Thanks. You are absolutely my best friend in the whole world, Nancy Drew!”
That wasn’t true, and Nancy knew it. Jessie Shapiro was Rebecca’s best friend.
Rebecca and Nancy walked into the school building. Then they hurried to their classrooms. Rebecca was in Mrs. Apple’s third-grade class. Nancy was in Ms. Spencer’s room, at the very end of the hall.
When Nancy got to her classroom, all the other students were in their seats. Nancy closed the classroom door behind her.
“You’re almost late!” said George Fayne as Nancy passed her desk at the front of the row.
“I know,” said Nancy. The bell rang just as she sat down at her desk by the window.
“Why are you so late?” Bess Marvin asked. Her seat was right next to Nancy’s.
“I was talking to Rebecca,” Nancy whispered. “I’ll tell you at lunch.”
Nancy couldn’t stop thinking about the missing party invitations. But first she had a different problem to solve: 111 + 32 = ?
For the next hour Ms. Spencer’s class did math review. Math was not Nancy’s favorite subject. But it was easy for her. Nancy did most of the problems in her head — just to make them harder.
After math the class did science. Then history.
Finally the lunch bell rang.
Nancy and Bess hurried out of the classroom. They met George at the door.
Bess was one of Nancy’s two best friends. She was pretty, with long blond hair. Bess was fussy about her hair. She combed it a lot and liked to wear head-bands or bows.
George was Bess’s cousin. She was Nancy’s other best friend. Her real name was Georgia, but no one called her that. She was taller than Nancy and Bess and not fussy about her hair at all. George had dark curls that bounced when she ran. She rarely wore ribbons or head-bands. She didn’t like anything in her hair that could fall out when she was doing a cartwheel. Or playing hopscotch. Or climbing a tree.
Sometimes the girls brought their lunches. Other times they ate the cafeteria food. That day the three of them went through the lunch line together. Then they found seats at an empty table.
While they ate, Nancy told Bess and George that they were invited to Rebecca’s party. Then she told them about the missing party invitations and favors.
George wrinkled her nose. “I don’t care about the party favors,” she said. “But I can’t wait to go to a slumber party! That will be so much fun.”
Bess frowned at George. “Well, I care about the party favors,” Bess said. “I would love to have a rainbow ribbon hair clip.”
“Me, too,” Nancy agreed. She put a straw into her milk carton. “So I’m going to help Rebecca find the invitations. But I have to work fast. The party is this Friday night.”
“This Friday?” Bess said. “Uh-oh.”
“Yeah, that’s pretty soon,” George agreed.
“No, that’s not the problem. I think there’s going to be trouble at her party,” Bess said.
“Why?” Nancy asked.
“Because guess who’s having a party the same night? And on the same street where Rebecca lives?”
“Who?” Nancy and George both asked.
Bess pinched her nose closed and scrunched up her face. “The boys!” she said.