Grade 7 Reading - 2011 Released Test


READING PASSAGE 1 - Questions 1-11

The Skunk Bear

1.png1 In the cold, unforgiving climate of Alaska’s wilderness, there is a creature feared by predators more than twice its size. With long, sharp claws and an unfriendly disposition, this compact animal demands respect. In the lonely territory inhabited by this creature, a cautious person will think twice before approaching. This animal may be related to the weasel and might look like a bear cub, but it’s really a wolverine.

2 The largest and strongest land-dwelling member of the weasel family, the wolverine shares several characteristics with bears. Like the bear, the wolverine walks on the soles of its feet, allowing it to tread easily through deep, soft snow. With amazingly powerful shoulders, teeth, and jaws, a wolverine can feed on frozen meat and even bite through bone. A wolverine can produce a strong, unpleasant scent when frightened or when marking its territory to warn away animals. It should come as little surprise that the wolverine has earned the nickname of “skunk bear.”

3 The wolverine is viewed by many as an unattractive animal. However, it is well-equipped for harsh winters. Thick, glossy, dark-brown fur covers most of its body, with a silvery gray mask of fur around its face. Frequently, a light-colored stripe runs along the side of the wolverine’s body to the tip of its long, bushy tail. It has a heavy build and a rounded head, with small eyes and short, rounded ears. An adult male weighs between 26 and 30 pounds, and a female weighs between 17 and 22 pounds. Newborn wolverines, called “kits,” normally weigh between 3 and 5 pounds. The kits are born in a protected cave and stay with their mothers for about 2 years.

Keeping Fed
4 Cold weather does not bother the hardy wolverine at all. In fact, wolverines prefer some of the coldest places in the world, including northern Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Because of the frigid temperatures in these regions, food can be difficult to find. In the most extreme months, a wolverine can live on a small amount of food for a period of time.

5 When a wolverine does find food, it does not appear to be a picky eater. Its strong teeth and powerful jaws can chew through a grizzly’s leftover meal, devouring anything from moose and caribou carcasses to elk and deer. A wolverine will eat squirrels, insects, or occasionally berries. People have repeated stories that wolverines have been known to sneak into cabins to find food, but these stories have never been confirmed. A wolverine locates food using its sense of smell and can detect live animals or carcasses far under the snow. It hunts day and night, doing whatever is necessary to find enough nutrition to remain strong and healthy.

Fight or Flight
6 Wolverines are fierce and difficult to observe. As a precaution, a wolverine may run away if it senses danger, reaching speeds of up to 25 miles per hour across the snow. If cornered, a wolverine uses its sharp teeth and claws for protection. It raises the hair on its back, sticks up its tail, and emits a low growl. A wolverine can make itself appear to be a threat to larger animals. Reports claim that cougars and wolves will retreat from food when challenged by a wolverine.

The Future
7 While wolverines are not on the endangered species list, their population in some areas is dwindling. One reason for the decline is the decrease in the available food supply. To ensure a continuing food supply, wolverine populations in Alaska are monitored, and their habitats are protected. The wolverine, with its thick fur, quick speed, and powerful jaws, is perfectly suited for living in harsh, cold environments. Efforts such as those in Alaska will help to keep the wolverine population stable for many years to come.
READING PASSAGE 2 - Questions 12-22

Saving Books ‘n’ More

1 Creeeak! The heavy door of Books ‘n’ More announced Chandra’s arrival. She stood in the doorway for a moment, enjoying the rich smell of fresh paper. The books sat on wide, wooden shelves in rows, their spines turned toward her like friendly, expectant faces.

2 “Hi, Chandra!” sang Mrs. Lee, the owner, from behind the cash register. “Looking to buy anything special today?”

3 “No, thanks. I just want to browse,” Chandra answered. She felt like a kid in a candy shop. Her mouth was practically watering at the sight of all those books. Each one seemed to promise adventure and mystery.

4 She could not help but notice, however, that there was no one else in the store. The last four or five times she had stopped in here, she had also been the only customer. She glanced at Mrs. Lee and noticed tight little worry lines around her mouth. Chandra was sure they had not been there the week before.

5 At the cash register, Chandra commented on how quiet the store was. Mrs. Lee sighed. “Lately, every day is like this,” she said. “If more customers don’t come in, the store will have to close.”

6 Chandra was first perturbed and then alarmed. Books ‘n’ More was the only bookstore in town. It was a necessary part of her life. After she stepped outside, she turned and looked back at the place where she had spent many happy hours. The store seemed to droop in the hot afternoon sun, like a plant that desperately needed watering.

7 That night at the dinner table, Chandra was unusually quiet. She was thinking about how much she would miss Books ‘n’ More if it closed. When her family asked what was wrong, she told them what Mrs. Lee had said. Her older brother Pete frowned. “You know, Chandra, one of my courses over at the community college is an advertising class. Maybe some of what I’m learning could help Mrs. Lee save Books ‘n’ More.”

8 “Like what?” asked Chandra.

9 Pete said, “Mrs. Lee needs more people in her store. Once people go in, they’ll probably buy books.” He snapped his fingers. “I’ve got it! How about a book club? One evening a month, people could meet in the store to discuss a book they’ve all read. If they buy it at her store, they receive a discount. In fact, she could do several book clubs. One for kids, one for adults, one for mystery fans . . . you get the idea.”

10 “That’s great!” Chandra exclaimed. “And how about having some authors come and do a book signing? I even have an idea for the first author. My math teacher, Mr. Fletcher, writes children’s books. I’m sure he would be willing to help Books ‘n’ More. I could put up fliers about the event at my school. Maybe someone could write about it in the school newspaper.”

11 The next day was Saturday. Chandra went straight to Books ‘n’ More to share her thoughts with Mrs. Lee. Mrs. Lee seemed hesitant at first, but by the time Chandra finished, she was smiling. “I’ll try your ideas. What do I have to lose? I’m going to need help, though. Someone will have to lead the book club discussions. I’ll need help advertising these events because I’ve never been good at such things.”

12 Chandra promised that she would help. The next week at school, she asked Mr. Fletcher if he would read and sign some of his books at Books ‘n’ More, and he happily agreed. A date was chosen, and Chandra threw herself into the preparations. She personally invited all her friends, the other teachers, and even the school principal.

13 Finally, everything was ready for the big night. At the back of the store, Mrs. Lee had set up several rows of folding chairs and a comfortable armchair for Mr. Fletcher. The chairs slowly filled with people. The time came to introduce Mr. Fletcher to the crowd.

14 Chandra noticed that Mrs. Lee looked nervous. “Are you all right?” she asked. “If you’re nervous about speaking in public, I could do it for you.”

15 Mrs. Lee smiled. “Thank you, but you’ve already done so much. I need to start taking more chances if my wonderful store is going to find the customers it deserves.”

16 Mrs. Lee walked up the aisle and turned to face the crowd. “Tonight is the first of what I hope will be a series of visiting authors. Before I introduce tonight’s author, though, there is someone I must thank. This exciting evening was mostly arranged by a terrific young lady named Chandra Phillips. If she were a little older, I would hire her as my advertising director.” The crowd laughed and clapped. Mrs. Lee then introduced Mr. Fletcher. As he began to read from his latest book, Harry’s Haunted Hayride, she took a seat next to Chandra.

17 “Did you really mean that? Could I really work here someday?” Chandra whispered. Mrs. Lee nodded. Chandra tried to listen to Mr. Fletcher, but her mind swam with even more ways to help Books ‘n’ More be successful. After all, she had to protect her future job!

READING PASSAGE 3 - Questions 24-32

Let’s Go Fly a Kite . . .

—at Piedmont Middle School’s celebration of kites!
kite.pngCome and learn how to build all sorts of kites, from the simplest diamond-shaped kites to the most ornate box kites. Stay as long as you like and build as many kites as you want. Once you have finished a kite, get advice on flying techniques from kite expert Lorena Hallsberg. The celebration will be at Piedmont Middle School, 151 Piedmont School Drive.

The Piedmont Middle School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) has organized a refreshment tent. All proceeds will benefit future PTO activities. Take a break from kite flying and drink some lemonade! While you are doing so, why not sign up and join the PTO? Membership is free; you just donate your time. Show your support for Piedmont Middle School by joining the PTO this Saturday!

When: Saturday, March 31, from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Where: Piedmont Middle School
Why: Community fun!
Cost: Free, thanks to a generous gift from Bizarco Kite Company!

Rain Date: Saturday, April 7


9:00 A.M. — Kite-building booths open. All materials are supplied for both simple and complex kites.
10:00 A.M. — Kite-building demonstrations by Lorena Hallsberg in the courtyard. For those interested in building more intricate kites, this demonstration is important. Come by and learn how to build box kites and kites that look—and fly—like butterflies.
11:00 A.M. — Kite-flying demonstrations on the school track. Learn all the most important skills.
12:00 P.M. — Kite-flying competitions on the school track. See which kites fly the longest, the fastest, and the highest.
1:00 P.M. — Presentation by Dr. Brian Lehrman in the show tent: “The History of Kites.”
2:00 P.M. — Best Kite contests and judging in the show tent. Come see the most artistic kites and the most interesting theme kites.
3:00 P.M. — Presentation by Dr. Lehrman in the show tent: “Kites and Science.”
3:30 P.M. — Awards ceremony conducted by Principal Seward on the football field. The results of the day’s judging will be announced, with awards such as Best of Show, Most Artistic, Highest Flyer, and others. Winners will receive trophies and gift certificates from the Bizarco Kite Company!
4:00–5:00 P.M. — Let’s all go fly a kite! Under the direction of Assistant Principal O’Conner, everyone flies kites at the same time, creating a remarkable sight for all to enjoy.

Kites Throughout History
At 1:00 P.M. and 3:00 P.M., Dr. Brian Lehrman of Piedmont Community College will discuss the historical development of kites, from the earliest Chinese examples to the discovery of electricity by Benjamin Franklin, who used only a kite, some string, and a metal key.

In his first presentation, Dr. Lehrman will discuss the history of kites. Kites are thought to have been invented by the Chinese more than 2,000 years ago and then quickly “flew” over the rest of the world. Since the 1600s, kites have been popular throughout Europe.

In the second presentation, Dr. Lehrman will discuss how kites have been used by scientists. Benjamin Franklin is just one of the scientists who used kites as an ingenious means to make important discoveries. In fact, in the early 1800s, Sir George Cayley used kites to try to build a flying machine that carried people. He actually answered important scientific questions using kites. Sir George’s discoveries helped the Wright brothers when they built the first successful airplane. In the 1820s George Pocock used kites to construct a powered carriage. With four kites, the powered carriage could reach speeds of approximately 20 miles per hour.

Come to both presentations and learn more.

READING PASSAGE 4 - Questions 33-42

Opening New Doors

1 “Want a piece of tangerine? It’s for luck.” Wen peeled off a section of the fruit and offered it to his friend Brady as they rode home on the school bus.

2 Brady accepted the piece of tangerine and popped it into his mouth. “Why is it for luck?”

3 “That’s one of our Chinese beliefs. Oranges have meaning too; they symbolize wealth,” Wen explained. “You should spend the weekend over at my house for the Chinese New Year. My family and I will show you how we celebrate.”

4 Wen elaborated on the traditional Chinese festival while Brady listened intently. Wen described the holiday as a special day representing the importance of family bonds. Relatives and friends congratulated each other on finishing another year while welcoming in the new one.

5 Brady was supposed to go camping that weekend with his family, but now his dad had to work. Brady was so disappointed that he was not sure whether he would want to spend the weekend doing anything at all. However, after listening to Wen and seeing the excitement in his face, Brady grew intrigued about experiencing the Chinese New Year. He was nervous about participating in new customs at Wen’s house, but after a moment of thought, Brady agreed to ask his parents if he could spend the weekend at Wen’s house.

6 With his parents’ permission, Brady went home with Wen on Friday afternoon. Wen told him that the family spent days cleaning the house and preparing for the fifteen-day celebration. Rooms were cleaned from top to bottom, sweeping away traces of bad luck, hoping that good luck would enter. Floral decorations were arranged neatly around the house to represent a fresh beginning for the new year. Wen’s father had even painted the door with another coat of bright red paint. The color red symbolizes fire and is believed to drive away unfavorable events.

7 Wen’s mother hugged Brady. “We’re honored to have you here with us. I’ve made special clothes for you to wear for the celebration.” She gave Brady a package wrapped with a small, red ribbon.

8 Brady followed Wen into his room, asking why everyone was wearing red-colored pajamas for the sleepover. A smile played on Wen’s face. “Open your present.”

9 As he slowly pulled the thin paper away, Brady found his own pair of red pants and a knee-length shirt with long, wide sleeves. “They’re pien-fu; I’ll be wearing the same thing,” Wen explained. “Wearing new clothes, especially in red, is part of the Chinese New Year tradition and symbolizes good fortune.”

10 Brady went into the bathroom to change into his new clothes. They were loose and comfortable. He liked the smoothness of the silk against his skin and the way the fabric breathed.

11 Next, the family sat down at an extravagant table and started eating a huge feast. There was an abundance of dumplings, oysters, and other sublime foods Brady could not identify. He hesitated to fill his plate, but the smell was very inviting.

12 “These dumplings are called jiaozi,” Wen said, piling his plate high with the small, crescent-shaped morsels. “The shells are made of dough and filled with meat, cabbage, and green onions. Then they’re boiled in water. Jiaozi are important to the Chinese New Year because they represent unity and happiness for the family.”

13 Throughout dinner, the family continued to explain the special meaning of each dish. Brady never knew that food could have special meanings such as luck, success, and good wishes. When he went to bed that night, his stomach and his heart felt full.

14 The next day, Wen’s grandmother woke them. “It’s time.”

15 “Lai-see!” Wen shouted and pulled Brady into a line of other children and young adults.

16 Wen’s grandmother brought out a tray covered with oranges, tangerines, and red envelopes. Each person in the line was given an envelope decorated with elaborate Chinese symbols and characters. Brady watched with curiosity as Wen and the others opened their envelopes. Money was inside!

17 Wen watched his friend. “Lai-see is a tradition to ensure wealth and fortune in the new year. Children and young adults receive this New Year’s present from family members.”

18 Wen’s father turned to Brady. “Are you enjoying our Chinese traditions?”

19 Brady answered with a shy smile on his face. “To be honest, I was afraid of doing all of these things. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the Chinese New Year, but it’s been so much fun! Thank you for accepting me into your home and sharing your traditions with me. You’ve given me gifts and delicious foods. If I hadn’t let Wen talk me into coming here, I would have missed a great experience. You’ve taught me that trying different things can open new doors—red doors!”

20 Everyone laughed, and Wen’s grandmother embraced the boys. “Chinese New Year is about good luck and success for the approaching year. We’re off to a good start today with Wen’s friend. I’m certain this means the coming year will be wonderful!”