Thursday, March 5, 2009

Middle-Grade Fiction Review: Found

Wow. Found, the first book in Margaret Peterson Haddix’s latest new series, The Missing, has it all: a fast-paced plot that pulls you in and doesn’t let go, an intriguing mystery, and realistic characters who you come to care about so much that you wish you could protect them from the dangers they’re facing.

My 5th-grader’s teacher is reading Found out loud to his class, and my 14-year old loved the book, so I decided to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I wasn’t disappointed.

The prologue opens with a strange scene in an airport, as Angela, a new airline employee on her first day on the job, sees an airplane suddenly appear at the gate out of nowhere. No one knows where the plane came from or how it got there, and Angela discovers there are no adults on the plane at all, just 36 babies.

The main action of the novel centers on three kids: 13-year old Jonah, who was adopted; his younger sister, Katherine; and their neighborhood friend, Chip. Jonah gets a mysterious letter in the mail one day that they all agree must be a silly prank, until that evening when Chip comes back over in a panic:

“I got one, too,” Chip said. He was clutching his face now, almost like that kid in the Home Alone movie.
“One what?” Jonah asked.
“One of those letters. About being missing.”
Chip pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. Jonah could tell that Chip had already folded and unfolded it many times: the creases were beginning to fray. Chip opened it once more, and Jonah could see that it was just like the letter he’d gotten, six typewritten words on an otherwise blank sheet of paper:


The action moves quickly forward as the three of them try to figure out what the letters mean and where they came from. The more they learn, the less they understand as they encounter FBI agents, more mysterious letters, and people who seem to appear and disappear at will.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is also the author of the popular series, The Shadow Children, though I had never read any of her books before. I ignored all my work this afternoon because I couldn’t bear to put this book down without finding out what happened. How will I ever wait until August when Book 2 is released?

NOTE: Although this book and series are written for middle-grade readers, teens and young adults who like fast-paced suspense novels will enjoy it, too.

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