The Big Cheese and For the Dance

- By Carla Gajewskey
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Read “The Big Cheese” and “For the Dance” by Carla Gajewskey and answer the question that follow.
The Big Cheese
1. Chester loved all kinds of cheese, but his favorite was Swiss cheese.
2. Chester was plump with big round ears, a long tail, and a button nose. Chester was a mouse. He was a very clean mouse, but a mouse nonetheless.
3. He lived in a small hole in the wall just behind the stove. It was the perfect place because no one knew he was there, and there were always good crumbs to eat.
4. The cheese was a bit more challenging to get to. It was always on a plate placed on the counter by the sink.
5. Chester would have to scurry past Sylvia the cat. Sylvia had been trying to catch Chester for years but never had any luck.
6. Since Chester was getting older and plumper, he was worried that Sylvia would be able to catch him soon for her favorite snack, mouse.
7. Chester decided to start looking for a new place to live.
8. Ollie the Owl asked him if he ever considered moving to the moon. She said that the moon was made of cheese, blue cheese at that.
9. Chester thought on this for a moment and realized that he really didn’t even know where the moon was, but blue cheese sounded close enough to Swiss cheese.
10. Ollie told him to come back once it got dark and she would show him where the moon was.
11. Chester came back at dark and waited for Ollie. Finally, Ollie came swooping down and landed on her limb.
12. Chester did not waste any time with small talk and asked Ollie where the moon was. She pointed to a huge lit up ball in the sky. Chester was stunned by how big it was and asked, “All of that is made of cheese?”
13. Chester said, “I could live off of that for a life time. How do I get up there?”
Ollie said, “I heard about those rocket things that will shoot you up to the moon.”
14. Chester remembered one of the boys in the house he lived in made a bottle rocket for a science fair project. Chester knew he had to get that bottle rocket, and he needed Ollie’s help.
15. He went inside and tiptoed past Sylvia to the closet of crafts. That is where he last saw the rocket.
16. Once he saw it, he motioned for Ollie to fly in from the window that had been left open in the kitchen. Ollie flew in without a sound, grabbed the bottle rocket with her feet, and flew out. Chester could not believe how quiet she was.
17. He ran to the junk drawer in the office and grabbed a few matches.
18. Chester then began to run to the cat door and ran right into Sylvia. Sylvia grabbed him, but Chester slipped out of her paws and out the cat door. Sylvia was right behind him.
19. He saw the bottle rocket in the open field. He struck the match, lit the rocket as he ran by it, and then jumped in. Chester yelled, “Come on! Come on!” The bottle rocket just fizzed, and nothing happened.
20. Chester just froze in fear as Sylvia grabbed the rocket. She held the rocket in her paws as it started sputtering. All of a sudden, she pointed it facing the moon and it took off.
21. Chester cried “Yee, Haw!” The moon got closer and closer. Finally the rocket was flying over the moon. Chester jumped off and rolled into a big hole.
22. He sat up and realized that Swiss cheese doesn’t even have holes this big. He grabbed a big clump, took a bite, and smiled. Chester thought to himself, “Home is where the heart is, or at least where the cheese is!”

For the Dance

1. I sat on the soft, brown couch in Jessica Nix’s living room. She was fixing us a glass of sweet iced tea. You know you are in Arkansas when you are offered sweet tea.
2. On the walls hung pictures of Jessica in her Southern Arkansas Strutter uniform. Many girls in Arkansas start dance early to prepare for the dance or drill team at the high school and college level. Jessica came back in with our sweet tea and caught me looking at her pictures.
3. Jessica: That picture was taken right after we won our homecoming game. I will never forget half-time. We did not make any mistakes during our show. We had so much fun.
4. Interviewer: How old were you when you started to dance?
5. Jessica: I was five, and I took ballet and tap.
6. Interviewer: Which was your favorite?
7. Jessica: Tap because I loved the noise my shoes would make.
8. Interviewer: How did you feel the first time you were on stage?
9. Jessica: (Jessica laughs) I really don’t remember. I think I was calm because I didn’t look nervous at all on the video of the recital.
10. Interviewer: When did dance start to become a challenge?
11. Jessica: It really started to become challenging when I was in junior high. I had more
practices and things became harder. Of course, I made it become more challenging because I became serious about it. I became more competitive. I went from just doing dance to have fun to wanting to be good.
12. Interviewer: What did you do to become a better dancer?
13. Jessica: I stretched, stretched, stretched. That was the only way to improve my flexibility. I also practiced turns anywhere I could. My friends were on the dance team. So when we hung out we were practicing. It was fun for us.
14. Interviewer: How did you know you were growing into a better dancer?
15. Jessica: When I made All-American in the eighth grade. I was really shocked that I made it. I was the only member of the dance team that made it.
16. Interviewer: What does making All-American mean?
17. Jessica: All-American is a company that does dance camps and dance competitions. If you are  noticed at these camps and competitions, you get a ribbon. Then you get to audition for various dance teams. If you make it, you get to travel. I traveled to San Antonio, Texas. Once there, I had the chance to dance with girls I didn’t know. It was a great experience.
18. Interviewer: Who inspired you to dance?
19. Jessica: It was more of me wanting to do it, no matter what anyone said. I used dance as an escape from things in my life that worried me.
20. Interviewer: What is your favorite form of dance?
21. Jessica: Lyrical is my favorite form of dance because it is not as slow as ballet or as fast as jazz. The lyrical form of dance tells a story. It also is a way to release emotions through dance.
22. Interviewer: What advice can you give young dancers?
23. Jessica: My advice is to stretch, stretch, and stretch. You also need to practice a lot, but it should be fun. You can practice anywhere. No matter how hard it gets, just try one more time.
24. Jessica Nix still loves dance to this day. She has passed her love for dance to her five year old daughter Elizabeth. Elizabeth performs tap, ballet, lyrical, jazz, and participates in competitions. Jessica teaches dance and yoga in Arkansas.

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Word Lists:

Lyrical : (of literature, art, or music) expressing the writer's emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way

Challenging : testing one's abilities; demanding

Audition : an interview for a particular role or job as a singer, actor, dancer, or musician, consisting of a practical demonstration of the candidate's suitability and skill.

Grab : grasp or seize suddenly and roughly

Ballet : an artistic dance form performed to music using precise and highly formalized set steps and gestures. Classical ballet, which originated in Renaissance Italy and established its present form during the 19th century, is characterized by light, graceful, fluid movements and the use of pointe shoes.

Interview : a meeting of people face to face, especially for consultation.

Jazz : a type of music of black American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano are particularly associated with jazz, although guitar and occasionally violin are also used; styles include Dixieland, swing, bebop, and free jazz.

Yoga : a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation

Flexibility : the quality of bending easily without breaking

Favorite : preferred before all others of the same kind


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