The Tap Dance Mystery by Susan Pearson, 1990.
The kids in Ernie’s class are assigned to groups to plan different acts for the show that they will have when their parents visit the school on Parents’ Night. The Martians are assigned to different groups. R. T.’s group is going to do magic tricks. Michael’s group is going to pretend to be a music group from Jupiter and play different homemade instruments. Unfortunately, William and Ernie are in the same group as Marcie, a mean and bossy girl who always smells sticky and sweet, like Juicy Fruit gum.
Marcie convinces the others that their group should tap dance because she has been taking lessons and can teach the others. William and Ernie struggle to learn the steps and make homemade tap shoes by tacking washers onto the bottoms of their shoes. Jason, the fourth member of their group, really likes dancing and shows a lot of talent for learning the moves. Still, only Marcie really looks the part of a dancer in her fancy costume and beautiful tap shoes.
Several kids ask Marcie if they can try on her tap shoes, including Jason, but she refuses to let them. Every day, she hides her shoes in a different place in their classroom when she isn’t there to watch them. When the shoes disappear, Marcie is convinced that Jason took them, but he says he didn’t. Ernie believes him, but she has to hurry if she is going to find the shoes and clear his name before Parents’ Night.
The solution to this mystery is fairly simple, but the story also has some interesting insight into the reason why Marcie acts the way she does and the effect that parents’ expectations can have on their children.
This is part of the Eagle-Eye Ernie series.