Beautifully decorated for the Christmas gift giveaway, the Snow Island community hall buzzed with energy and trilled with cheerful voices. Throughout the room, ecstatic children played with presents just received — building blocks, storybooks, musical instruments, board games, and more. As for the adults, they happily chatted among themselves while watching their little ones.
Eight-year-old Orion was closely watching the action unfold as he waited his turn to receive a gift. That’s when he overheard a disturbing conversation between Santa’s helpers.
“There are only 32 gifts left,” the Star Fairy said to Peppy the Elf. “But according to the list, there are 33 children left who haven’t been called.”
“How is that possible?” Peppy exclaimed. “I checked everything myself yesterday. Three times!”
“We must have lost one this morning on the way over from the garage at city hall,” the Star Fairy deduced.
Orion couldn’t believe his ears.
“Did you hear that, Capella?” he asked his twin sister.
“Someone’s not getting a present,” the boy explained.
“Oh no,” Capella replied. “We have to do something!”
Without a moment’s hesitation, the siblings offered to retrace the route between the two buildings in search of the missing gift. With obvious relief, the fairy and elf accepted, but they urged the children to be quick.
Orion and Capella made a beeline for their parents. As they put on their hats and boots, they hurriedly explained the situation. Audrey and Patrick grabbed their coats and followed the kids out of the hall, ready to help on the important quest.
“Hurry up,” Capella urged as they headed outside. “We have to get back before Santa finishes handing out the last of the presents.”
“But if we go too fast, we might miss a clue,” Orion countered.
“You’re right, champ. We need to be quick but attentive,” Patrick said.
Halfway to the city hall garage, Orion raised a hand to signal his family to stop.
“That’s strange,” he said. “Do you hear that? It sounds like bells.”
“It’s coming from over there,” Capella exclaimed, immediately running toward the mysterious sound. “Look, there it is!”
The girl jumped up and down with excitement as her family ran to join her. “Don’t you see it?”
Hanging by its ribbon from a tree branch, the missing gift jingled as it swung gently in the breeze.
“You two make excellent detectives,” Audrey said with a smile as she reached up to retrieve the package. “Now, let’s hurry back before it’s too late.”
When the family returned to the community hall, they were out of breath but proud to have accomplished their mission. The twins bundled the present in one of their coats so they could discreetly return it to the pile of gifts — there were only three left!
“Phew! Just in time,” Peppy murmured.
“You saved the day,” the Star Fairy exclaimed.
Once all the gifts were handed out, the children of Snow Island prepared to head home — including one little boy who didn’t know that his new tambourine had almost been a gift for the squirrels instead of him.
Smiling from ear to ear, Orion and Capella wished everyone a happy holiday before rejoining their parents.
By Johannie Dufour and Sarah Beauregard
Translated by Katya Teague
Nature quiz: find the odd one out
If you love nature, this fun quiz is for you. Try to find the odd one out in each of the following questions.
1. Which of these trees isn’t an evergreen?
2. Which of these mammals isn’t a rodent?
3. Which of these waterways isn’t a river?
A. The English Channel
B. The Seine
C. The Nile
D. The Mississippi
4. Which of these mushrooms isn’t edible?
A. Destroying angel
5. Which of these constellations isn’t part of the zodiac?
6. Which of these mountain ranges isn’t in North America?
A. The Cascade Range
B. The Andes Mountains
C. The Appalachians
D. The Rockies
7. Which of these shrubs are thornless?
A. Sea buckthorn
1-C, 2-C, 3-A, 4-A, 5-B, 6-B, 7-C
Morse code basics
Before the telephone and satellite communication was invented, Morse code was used to transmit messages over long distances quickly. For example, ships often used Morse code to send distress signals. Additionally, in the past, if you wanted to tell your family when your train would arrive at the station, you could send them a letter in Morse code.
What’s Morse code?
Morse code was invented by Samuel Morse and is a means of communication that uses long and short signals to transmit messages. Morse code is often sent using sound or light signals. It can also be written. For example, short signals are represented as dots and long signals as dashes:
• A =
• E =
• R =
• T =
Therefore, to communicate the letter A in Morse code, you must transmit a short sound followed by a long sound. Each letter of the alphabet has its own code, so you can easily spell words and phrases using the right combination of signals.
It’s a bit complicated, isn’t it? Fortunately, today you can simply text, email, or phone your friends. However, the Morse code is still used in military emergencies.
Why does helium change the sound of your voice?
Have you ever inhaled helium from a balloon? If so, you may have noticed that your voice becomes higher than usual. This is a funny and intriguing side effect. Here’s why it happens.
Your vocal cords vibrate when you speak or sing, much like the strings on a guitar. How fast the air passes through your vocal cords determines the pitch of your voice. Slow-moving air makes low-pitched sounds, while fast-moving air makes high-pitched sounds.
Helium is lighter than air. Therefore, when you inhale helium, it travels much more quickly across your vocal cords than oxygen, making your voice sound higher than normal.
Though it’s fun to alter the pitch of your voice by inhaling helium, don’t overdo it. If you inhale too much, you could deprive your body of oxygen and faint. It’s perfectly safe to inhale small quantities of helium, but doing so repeatedly can have dangerous consequences.
10 tips for being a good friend
Cultivating long-lasting friendships takes time and commitment. Here are a few simple tips to help you make friends.
1. Pay attention and listen to them when they tell you something
2. Share with them
3. Keep their secrets
4. Periodically call, or video chat them
5. Never talk behind their back
6. Support and encourage them if they’re going through a tough time
7. Console them if they’re sad
8. Invite them to spend time with you
9. Celebrate important events with them like their birthday and holidays
10. Apologize if you hurt their feelings
One of the best gifts in life is friendship.
Association game: vegetables
Vegetables are excellent for your health and come in many colorful varieties and shapes. Try to match each clue to the correct vegetable.
1. This white vegetable is called Daikon
2. Bugs Bunny’s favorite food
3. A similar vegetable to collard greens
4. Another name for beans
5. There are summer and winter varieties of this vegetable
6. Rutabagas are from the same family as this vegetable
7. A crunchy green vegetable with lots of water
8. A dark green vegetable that looks like cauliflower
9. The leaves of this vegetable are used in salads
10. The most common varieties of this vegetable are English and Lebanese
11. Iceberg and Chinese are two varieties of this vegetable
12. A bulbous vegetable that’s said to repel vampires
13. A vegetable that’s often eaten with butter and salt
14. There are many ornamental varieties of this vegetable
15. The sweet version of a chili
1-N, 2-D, 3-B, 4-I, 5-H, 6-L, 7-E, 8-C, 9-O, 10-G, 11-F, 12-A, 13-K, 14-J, 15-M
4 animals that can regrow body parts
Many animals have extraordinary abilities. For example, certain species can change color or sleep with their eyes open. Here are four amazing creatures that can regrow their body parts.
1. Octopuses need eight limbs to move around and eat. Fortunately, they can regenerate lost tentacles in a matter of months.
2. Lizards can sever their own tails as a defense mechanism. A new tail will regrow within a few months.
3. Flatworms can tear themselves in half and regrow a completely new body, including a new head.
4. Spiders commonly lose legs when fighting off predators. The good news is that they can regrow their lost limbs within a few days.
In addition, male deer shed and regrow their antlers every year.
Did you know?
People can also regrow one specific part of their body. The liver, which filters blood, can partially regenerate itself.