The Case of the Missing Paragraph

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The Case of the Missing Paragraph: Guide to Writing

An Easy-to-Use Composition Play for Elementary and Middle School

Grades 3-7
35 minutes
(2 or more Book/CD sets @ $30 each)

In Stock.

Includes script, teacher's guide, and audio CD. The CD has all the songs recorded twice: first with singing, so you and your students can learn the songs, and then without voices so your students can perform without us singing along.

And if you ever have any trouble or questions, you can contact us at any time for help.


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For individual teachers/classes:
Book/CD - $39.95 for 1, $30/ea for 2+
Hint: order 1 for each teacher. (details)

For 3+ teachers or whole schools:
Site License - $75.00
Comes with 3 copies of book/CD plus unlimited photocopying rights (details)
School/site name:

Musical extras:
Piano/Guitar Score - $9.95 (details)
Extra/Replacement CD - $9.95

Or order by phone, fax or PO

This 35-minute musical play can be done as a complete play, skits, reader's theater, or you can just sing songs. No music or drama experience needed!

It was a sweltering afternoon when she knocked on the door. She was looking for a detective. Someone to find her paragraph. It was missing. No, the dog had not eaten it. She'd come to the right place: The Expository Detective Agency. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

You guessed it: we went film noir with this play. Students will have a great time acting out the parts and working through the mystery as they review the basic elements of expository composition:

  • Choosing a topic
  • Doing research
  • Reference books and sources
  • Structuring an essay, including:
    • Opening paragraph with thesis statement
    • Body paragraphs with topic sentences and examples
    • Concluding paragraph
  • Writing with style
  • Revision
  • Plagiarism

The Case of the Missing Paragraphis a great complement to your curriculum resources in composition. And, like all of our plays, this show can be used to improve reading, vocabulary, reading comprehension, performance and music skills, class camaraderie and teamwork, and numerous social skills (read about it!) -- all while enabling students to be part of a truly fun and creative experience they will never forget!

Author: Ron Fink (Composer) and John Heath (Book and Lyrics)
© 2009 Bad Wolf Press, LLC

"I had such a blast doing this. My students loved the songs and sung them constantly, even after we were done with the musical! They developed their own choreography, coached each other and really came together as a team. They were also highly motivated to learn new vocabulary. Overall it was a wonderful experience."

---Anna Fink, Teacher (4th) CHIME Elementary, Woodland Hills, CA

"We had a wonderful time with the script and music, which were easy to learn and follow along with. The content of the play followed right along with what was taught throughout the year. It was great!"

---Julie Sheffer, Teacher (5th grade), Clark Elementary School, Paducah, KY.

"Thorougly standards based! The audience loved the humor and we had standing ovations."

---Vince Rosato, teacher (4th) Searles Elementary, Union City, CA

"The kids did a superb job. The adults loved the humor, and when the kids saw the adults reaction they loved it too. I'm getting compliments on the performance from teachers all over the school. Thank you. I will try this play again. "

---Ronni Harvith, Teacher (5th) Fields Road Elementary, Gaithersburg, MD

"GREAT fun! My young performers (10th grade) performed it for grades 2-7 and it was very well received. There are even some jokes that only the grown ups get."

---Jan Labellarte, Teacher (10th grade), Warren County Technical School, Washington, NJ

"The kids' favorite. Great songs."

---Linda May, Teacher (5th grade), Centennial Arts Academy, Gainesville, GA.

"The fifth grade class that I'm working with is doing Missing Paragraph. Their teacher told me that as they walked across their school they sang the theme song all they way there. Doing the musical has brought them together as a group. "

---Rich Howell, Founder, EnRiching Education, Nevada City, CA

"The Case of the Missing Paragraph was a fun way to introduce expository writing. I love the humor and the fact that it was suitable for all the students (those with tons of confidence and those not so confident). I love that I can adjust your plays to fit the dynamics of my students. I can make them as small or as big of a production as I see fit. Also, I can just use the songs in my daily classes to reinforce certain concepts and skills. When students can 'sing a concept' it helps them retain it better."

---Kristina Cevallos, Teacher (5th grade), FL

"We loved it, and it touched on many parts of writing in a musical way."

---Stacey Garbon, Teacher (4th grade), Moss Park Elementary, Orlando, FL


Flexible casting from 11-40 students.
Use as many Butlers, Maids, Drivers, Cooks, etc.
as desired; one student can easily play several roles. Note that all
roles can be played by either boys or girls, including the presidents;
see our comments on page 40 of the Teacher's Guide.


This is the first one-third of the script:


Steve Stevens, Private Eye
Narrator (has a crush on Steve)
Eccentric Aunts
Amelia Earhart
Colonel Ketchup
Style Reserve Recruits
Miss Mansion
Bill Shakespeare

and a CHORUS composed of all students who are not playing
roles on stage at the time.

(CLASS enters, sits around back of stage/classroom. There
is a small desk with a chair in the middle. STEVE STEVENS
enters, sits on the chair and leans back. NARRATOR enters,
holding a book. SHE stands slightly to one side at front, and
reads loudly and clearly to the audience from the book.)

NARRATOR (she speaks in a clipped rhythm, detective-style): It was warm
day. Private Eye Steve Stevens was cool, though. Too cool. He needed a
case. The rent was due, and he'd eaten nothing but Lucky Charms* for three
days. He hated Leprechauns. The phone rang.
(SHE makes a silly phone ringing sound.)
It was a call that would change his life.

STEVE (picking up the phone):
Steve Stevens, Private Eye.
(pause to listen, then speaks; excited)
Wow, that IS a good deal! Two weeks in Hawaii every year?

NARRATOR: But THIS was NOT the call. This was a solicitation for a
time-share condo. Steve hung up the phone.

STEVE (not wanting to hang up, protests to NARRATOR): But for only 10,000
bucks I could get a beautiful...

NARRATOR (interrupting, very forcefully): STEVE HUNG UP THE PHONE!

STEVE (hanging up the phone): Okay, okay. Geez. This detective genre is so

NARRATOR (collects herself, begins reading from the book again): The phone
(SHE makes a silly phone ringing sound)
It was a call that would change his life.

STEVE (grabs the phone eagerly, starts talking before he hears who is on the
line): I didn't want to hang up. They made me. Tell me more about...
(HE stops talking, now listening to someone speaking)
Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else.
(Listens for a bit)
A case? For me? Of course I'm free.
(HE holds his hand over the phone, whispers loudly, happily
It's a case! It's a case! Wow, it's a case!

NARRATOR (reading to audience from her book): Steve was cool.

STEVE (collecting himself, trying to act cool, speaks back into phone):
You're in luck, Miss Mansion. I think I can squeeze you in. What's the
(He listens a bit, then asks disbelievingly)
You had WHAT stolen?
(Pause; then, obviously faking it)
Sure, uh, that's not a problem. We, uh, see that all the time. I've handled
dozens, maybe millions of cases like that.

NARRATOR (still reading from the book): Steve was lying.

STEVE (covering phone; to NARRATOR): Would you stop that?
(into phone)
Oh no, not you, Miss Mansion. I'll be over in a few minutes.
(HE hangs up. To NARRATOR:)
Come on. We gotta go. Some rich dame just had an heirloom stolen. A
paragraph. Whatever that is.
(HE rushes off)

NARRATOR: Steve was clueless. Cute, but clueless.

(STEVE shouts from side): Come on! Round up the usual suspects.

NARRATOR: Steve had always wanted to say that.

(NARRATOR rushes off; CLASS stands and sings)

Song 1 - Listen now!

You like detective stories?
You like a little laugh?
You've found the place
'Cause here's the case
Of the missing paragraph.

A crime has been committed
So grab your polygraph
We're in a race
To solve the case
Of the missing paragraph.

One, big
One mystery
We'll search out each clue
One, big
One mystery
We'll learn about writing essays too.

We've got a nice Who Dunnit
And here's the final draft
Now we're on pace
To solve the case
Of the missing paragraph.

A crime has been committed
So grab your polygraph
We're in a race
To solve the case
Of the missing paragraph.

One, big
One mystery
We'll search out each clue
One, big
One mystery
We¹ll learn about writing essays too.

(CLASS sits down. STEVE walks on; NARRATOR takes her
place at front, to one side, as before.)

NARRATOR (reading from book): A few minutes later, Steve was knocking on
Miss Mansion¹s front door.
(STEVE looks around­there is no door, of course. HE throws up his hands at
NARRATOR. SHE repeats:)
Steve KNOCKED on the door.
(HE shrugs, pretends to knock in the air, half-heartedly.
Knock, knock, knock.

STEVE (to NARRATOR): Thanks. I can handle it from here.

NARRATOR: Something strange had overcome Steve.

STEVE: Really. Go on. I'll be okay.

NARRATOR (hurt, reads from book): Steve foolishly decided to go solo,
dismissing the only decent thing he had in his life.
(SHE exits in a huff; THREE BUTLERS quickly appear)

BUTLER #1: Mr. Stevens, I presume?

STEVE: That's right. Private Eye. Miss Mansion called me about the, uh,
missing heirloom.

BUTLER #2: Welcome to the Mansion Mansion. We are her butlers. Please come
into the library.

BUTLER #3: Miss Mansion is indisposed at the moment.

BUTLER #1: She has asked us to show you the crime scene.

BUTLER #2 (holding a fancy piece of paper, like parchment): This is the
(Hands it to STEVE)

BUTLER #3: It's an essay composed by her grandfather.

BUTLER #1: It was a prize-winning essay, the money for which he parlayed
into the Mansion fortune. It is of great sentimental value to Miss Mansion.

STEVE: I thought it was stolen.

BUTLER #2: Not the entire essay. Just a paragraph.

BUTLER #3: And not just any paragraph. The OPENING paragraph.

STEVE: Is that important?

BUTLER #1: Important? The opening paragraph is THE crucial paragraph.

BUTLER #2: It sets the tone, presents the topic---it outlines the entire

BUTLER #3: It's like a Butler. It greets the readers and invites them in.

STEVE: Sounds valuable.

BUTLERS #1, 2, 3 (together): Absolutely.

Song 2 - Listen now!

Gotta gotta gotta have
Gotta gotta gotta have, yeah
Gotta gotta gotta have an introduction.

Gotta gotta gotta have
Gotta gotta gotta have
Gotta gotta gotta have an introduction.

First paragraphs open doors
That's where things begin
First paragraphs greet your guests
And welcome them in.
Gotta gotta gotta have
Gotta gotta gotta have, yeah
Gotta gotta gotta have an introduction.

Open the door
Show what's in store
Make 'em want more
Gotta gotta gotta have an introduction.

First paragraphs state the theme
And your point of view
Though butlers don¹t like to shout
Thesis statements do!

Gotta gotta gotta have
Gotta gotta gotta have, yeah
Gotta gotta gotta have an introduction.

Open the door
Show what's in store
Make 'em want more
Gotta gotta gotta have an introduction, oh
Gotta gotta gotta have an introduction.

(THEY exit. NARRATOR enters and takes place at front, side
of stage. Two MAIDs also enter, dusting and cleaning.)

NARRATOR (reading from book): The case was heating up. So was Steve
Stevens---he had handcuffed all three butlers to the coffee table. The Butler
ALWAYS does it, he reasoned. Steve was wrong. He was big enough to admit it.
Especially when faced with a lawsuit. Meanwhile, rumors were flying through
the rest of the Mansion household. The Maids even dusted off some old
(SHE exits)

MAID #1 (pointing to exiting NARRATOR): Who was that?

MAID #2: I don't know. She showed up with that Private Eye. Some sort of
story-tellin' device, I think.

MAID #1: Better than a voice-over.

MAID #2: Oh, yes! Nothin's cheesier than a voice-over.

MAID #1: So, do you have any theories about who took the paragraph?

MAID #2: I don't see why they¹re makin' such a big deal about it. It's the
topic that counts in essay writin'.

MAID #1: It is, isn't it? You can't even THINK about writin' an openin'
paragraph until you have something to write about.

MAID #2: And you should pick somethin' fun. If you like what you're workin'
on, it's easy. I've always loved cleanin' my ears, for example. Back in
school I wrote every single essay about my ears.

MAID #1: And I used to write about footwear! I LOVE footwear. Sometimes I
put on three or four pair of Miss Mansion's socks and run around the house
pretendin' I'm rich.

MAID #2: Yep. You gotta write about what you love.

Song 3 - Listen now!

Choose your topic wisely
That's rule number one
Choose your topic wisely, oh
Make your writing fun!

MAID #2:
My fav'rite essay I composed
Explained how ear wax comes and goes
I learned so much and all these years
I've cherished all the stuff inside my ears.
Woh oh oh oh

Choose your topic wisely
That's rule number one
Choose your topic wisely, oh
Make your writing fun!

MAID #1:
My fav'rite was outside the box
I analyzed Abe Lincoln's socks
The Civil War then lit my fuse
'Cause I had stood in Mr. Lincoln's shoes
Woh oh oh oh.

Choose your topic wisely
That's rule number one
Choose your topic wisely, oh
Make your writing fun!

Choose your topic wisely
That's rule number one
Choose your topic wisely, oh
Make your writing fun!
Make your writing fun!

(THEY exit. STEVE enters, walking slowly, sniffing the air.
NARRATOR enters and takes her position.)

NARRATOR (reading from book): Steve was on the scent. Literally. He smelled
something delicious and it was almost lunch time.
(SHE looks up, no longer seeming to read from the book.
SHE speaks dreamily at first, but gets upset towards the end.)
It had been days since Steve had a good home-cooked meal. And certainly
there was someone who would love to cook him a great meal. Someone who is
there every day. Someone who reads his thoughts like a book. Someone he
barely notices, someone who might as well be DEAD.
(SHE starts weeping hysterically and runs off stage)

(This concludes the first one-third of the script.)

Sample Songs

Click on the song name to hear samples. Please note that internet song samples have low fidelity and rest assured that the CDs we sell sound much better! (This player requires Flash. If you have any trouble hearing the samples, just contact us for help.)

Full Song List

1. One Big Mystery
2. Gotta Have an Introduction
3. Choose Your Topic Wisely
4. Cooking Up an Essay
5. Working Out
6. My Thesaurus
7. The Style Reserve
8. Gotta Revise
9. Plagiarism
10. One Big Mystery (reprise)

Common Core and Other National Standards

Language Arts

Fine Arts

  • National Music Standards 1, 2, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standard 1 for 5th-8th
  • National Theater Standards 2, 3, 6, 7, and 8 for K-4th, Standards 2 and 6 for 5th-8th
  • National Dance Standards 1 and 2 for K-4th


The Great Divide
Golden Mean