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There's No Place Like Home by Jamie Lee (Grade 8)

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There's No Place Like Home by Jamie Lee

The clock struck 2:30 and the bell signaled the dismissal of 500 students.

Behind the crowd of children walking home was Jane. Instead of hopping and skipping like the others, Jane dragged her feet along the dirt path and kicked the pebbles that occasionally greeted her worn out sneakers. Unlike her fellow walkers, Jane did not live in one of the houses that surrounded the school, but every day, on her way home, she passed by and admired the beauty of each and every one.

The first house had a majestic tree with arms that reached towards the sky and awaited the cherry blossoms that would bud in May. The second had a vintage mailbox that stood tall and proud on the patch of grass in front. The fifth had a porch with two lemon yellow beach chairs that were warm and inviting like summer. The ninth had an incredible backyard that had a marble fountain that would spray water that glistened under the summer sun.

Anticipating what awaited her, Jane quickly skipped her way to the twelfth house, which had two handsome golden retrievers with the softest fur Jane had ever felt. She always looked forward to the twelfth house because the retrievers were usually leisurely napping on the porch, and she would always gaze at them until they went back inside. But today, the retrievers were nowhere to be seen. Disappointed, Jane continued along her way, passing by the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and the following houses without the same enthusiasm.

After passing the last house, Jane turned right and continued her way home, neighborhood after neighborhood, admiring the embellishments that each of the houses shared.

After an hour of kicking pebbles and admiring the beauty of the houses in each of the neighborhoods, Jane arrived in front of a familiar house in a familiar neighborhood beyond the school’s boundaries. This house did not have a grand tree, a unique mailbox, a porch with beach chairs, a backyard with a fountain, or napping golden retrievers. It was a skinny house embraced with white siding and crimson shutters that were ready to fall off. Instead of a wide porch, the front door was met with a series of crooked steps. Rather than a mailbox that belonged to the house, there was a small, metal box at the end of the block that held the mail belonging to all the houses in the same unit. In the back was an abandoned veranda that was frequently visited by spiders and their intricate webs. In place of a real pet was a stuffed animal that sat on a windowsill and greeted Jane with a friendly smile.

Jane sighed and walked up the cement steps to the crimson door that matched the shutters, in both color and age, and reached up to press the plastic oval that would produce a sound identical to her school bell. In five short seconds, the door opened. There stood a woman frazzled by late night and early morning work hours. At the sight of Jane, the woman’s tight expression was replaced by a wide smile. The warm wrinkles that met the corner of her eyes, the soft crimson that brushed her cheeks, and the crystal-clear teeth that came with her broad smile made her beautiful, inside and out.

At the sight of her mother’s familiar scent and smile, Jane’s resentment towards the appearance of her house washed away, and she rushed inside. Her mother gave her a kiss on the forehead and asked Jane her daily questions about school, to which Jane responded with funny events that had happened during the day just to see her mother laugh.

There was nothing Jane admired more than her mother’s smile and laugh, and it was then and there that Jane realized that such moments warmed her more than a summer blaze and made her happier than any mailbox, blossom tree, porch, fountain, or golden retriever would. The houses that she passed by everyday were beautiful, and it was true that her house was not like any of the houses that encompassed the school and lacked all of the embellishments that Jane admired. Her house was small but it was still beautiful in its own way. It was a house built upon memories, laughter, and love. In fact, none of what was on the outside mattered. Nothing was as beautiful and glorious as what was hidden on the inside and awaited Jane every day after school.

Together, Jane and her mother sat down in the kitchen to feast on hot chocolate and homemade chocolate chunk cookies while that night’s dinner cooked on the stove, and the radio softly played “Piano Man” in the background.

There’s no place like home.
Based on the passage, you can infer that the school Jane attended was
  1. located in a wealthy neighborhood.
  2. not one she enjoyed attending.
  3. very strong academically.
  4. falling apart.
How did Jane feel about the houses she passed on her way home?
  1. She was upset that she had to walk so far.
  2. She thought they were hiding ugliness inside.
  3. She wished she could build one like them someday.
  4. She admired their beauty and their special features.
Which choice best describes Jane's house?
  1. It was white and red.
  2. It had lots of people inside.
  3. It looked old and was falling apart.
  4. It sat in a dangerous part of town.
Which statement best describes Jane's mother?
  1. She was a terrible cook and housekeeper.
  2. She worked hard and cared about Jane.
  3. She did not know how to repair a house.
  4. She did not like people stopping by unexpected.
What is the main message of the story?
  1. A home must be beautiful.
  2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
  3. People always want what they don't have.
  4. A home is more than what it looks like on the outside.
Describe the place where you live. What makes it feel like home?

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