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4th Grade Assessment – Unit 3: RL.4.1, RL.4.3, RL.4.4, RL.4.7

Justice February 1, 2015

Directions : Read this story. Then answer questions 1 through 6.


Excerpt from Lawn Boy

by Gary Paulsen

1 Okay. Since I was twelve, I didn’t have much experience with motors. I’ve never even had a dirt bike or four-wheeler. I’m just not machine oriented.

2 My birthday present sat there. I tried pushing it toward our garage, but it didn’t seem to want to move. Even turning around to put my back against it and push with my legs—which I thought might give me better leverage—didn’t help; it still sat there.

3 So I studied it. On the left side of the motor was a small gas tank, and I unscrewed the top and looked in. Yep, gas. On top of the tank were two levers; the first was next to pictures of a rabbit and a turtle. Even though I’m not good with machines, I figured out that was the throttle and the pictures meant fast and slow. The other lever said ON-OFF. I pushed ON.

4 Nothing happened, of course. On the very top of the motor was a starting pull-rope. What the heck, why not? I gave it a jerk and the motor sputtered a little, popped once, then died. I pulled the rope again and the motor hesitated, popped, and then roared to life. I jumped back. No muffler.

5 Once when I was little, my grandmother, in her usual logic-defying fashion, answered my request for another cookie by saying that my grandfather had been a tinkerer. “He was always puttering with things, taking them apart, putting them back together. When he was around nothing ever broke. Nothing ever dared to break.”

6 Loud as the mower was, it still wasn’t moving and the blade wasn’t going around. I stood looking down at it.

7 This strange thing happened.

8 It spoke to me.

9 Well, not really. I’m not one of those woo-woo people or a wack job. At least I don’t think I was. Maybe I am now. 10 Anyway, there was some message that came from the mower through the air and into my brain. A kind of warm, or maybe settled feeling. Like I was supposed to be there and so was the mower. The two of us.

11 Like it was a friend. So all right, I know how that sounds too: We’ll sit under a tree and talk to each other. Read poems about mowing. Totally wack.

12 But the feeling was there.

13 Next I found myself sitting on the mower, my feet on the pedals. I moved the throttle to the rabbit position—it had been on turtle—and pushed the left pedal down, and the blade started whirring. The mower seemed to give a happy leap forward off the sidewalk and I was mowing the lawn.

14 Or dirt. As I said, we didn’t really have much of a lawn. Dust and bits of dead grass flew everywhere and until I figured out the steering, the mailbox, my mother’s flowers near the front step and a small bush were in danger.

15 But in a few minutes I got control of the thing and I sheared off what little grass there was.

16 The front lawn didn’t take long, but before I was done the next-door neighbor came to the fence, attracted by the dust cloud. He waved me over.

17 I stopped in front of him, pulled the throttle back and killed the engine. The sudden silence was almost deafening. I stood up away from the mower, my ears humming, so I could hear him.

18 “You mow lawns?” he asked. “How much?”

19 And that was how it started.


9th Grade ELA – Pre-test Assessment 4