Who’s ready for summer! I sure am. For me, summer is synonymous with getting to read a lot. Working really puts a cramp in my style when it comes to reading (because contrary to popular belief, librarians do NOT get to sit around and do nothing but read books…it would be nice, though). If you’re like me and are gearing up to read a lot this summer, I’ve got the perfect thing for you – The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Add this one to your summer reading list asap!
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I first found this series during one of the Scholastic Bookfairs I held this year at school. I had read another Margaret Peterson Haddix book, Double Identity, to my fifth graders in the fall and they enjoyed it (it’s a mystery/science fiction about cloning) but I hadn’t heard of any of her other books. I started reading the backs of The Missing books and I was intrigued ..they looked like something my students would really enjoy.
I was absolutely right.
We are so close to the end of the school year that there isn’t time to start reading a whole long book with my kiddos, and between field trips, parties, and state testing, library class visits are sporadic. So for the past few weeks I’ve been introducing one book per week for some of my older classes – reading just a chapter or two to hopefully pique their interest and cause them to want to check it out from the public library over the summer or from our library next school year to find out what happens.
I chose the first book in The Missing series, Found, to read to the fourth graders this week. I have never had such a positive reaction to a book! In fact, they begged me to continue reading – I had only planned to read them the first three chapters, which get you hooked and then leave you hanging, and then let the kids have free time for the rest of class, but they begged for me to keep going so we read until class let out.
Let me tell you something, I know I’ve found a winner if my students voluntarily give up free time to keep reading!
Unfortunately for them, they have to wait until next school year to finish the book (we aren’t checking out any more books this year) or visit the public library to get it. But lucky me, I don’t have to wait so I’ve been devouring them in my spare time :). Yep, I was just as hooked as the kids.
Now that I’ve hopefully piqued your interest, let me tell you a little about the series. In the first book, Found, we meet thirteen-year-old Jonah and his twelve-year-old sister, the two main characters of the series. Jonah has always known he was adopted and it doesn’t bother him any…at least, not until he starts receiving mysterious letters and meeting other adopted kids his age who are also receiving strange messages. Jonah, Katherine, and their friend Chip, who is also adopted, suddenly find themselves deep in a mystery of where they came from and the circumstances behind their adoptions.
The rest of the series plays off of the ending of the first book, Found. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but I also want to tell you a little about the rest of the series, especially if you are a parent of a child who might read these (I’m going to tie in some educational stuff for you). So here’s what I’m going to do…this is an official spoiler alert. If you plan to read these for yourself and don’t want to hear anymore, then skip on to the end. If you are interested in finding out more, then read on :)
So the gist of these books is time travel…I know, not everyone’s cup of tea. And I’ll be honest, it’s not really mine either, but I didn’t realize that was what it was about until I had already started reading and was hooked (side note, that happened to me with Harry Potter, too…I didn’t have any desire to read fantasy or anything about witches and wizards, and yet when I started it I couldn’t put it down and now they are my favorite books ever). Anyway, so even if science fiction is not your thing, I suggest you still give these a try.
So the reason I had to give that away is to tell you this: each successive book in the series is about Jonah and Katherine (and sometimes others) traveling back in time to various parts of history. I wanted to let you know that since I know that some parents and teachers read my blog and I wanted you to see the educational merit to these books. These books are so intriguing that the kids will devour them and be learning about history at the same time. These are perfect compliments to your history lessons if you are a teacher or a homeschooling parent. They really make history come alive.
In the second book, Sent, they travel back to medieval times. In the third book, Sabotaged, they go back to Roanoke and the colonies. In Torn they are on a ship with sailors trying to find the Northwest Passage with Henry Hudson. That’s as far as I’ve read so I don’t know where they are going in Caught :).
I will say the time travel stuff is way hard for me to wrap my head around and gets me a little confused sometimes, but it’s way worth it because the story is just so good!
———————end spoiler alert—————————
Ok, back to non-spoiler things :). In case you are wondering, these books are on a 5th grade level (according to Accelerated Reader). Like I said, I read an excerpt to my fourth graders and they (both boys and girls) really enjoyed it. Speaking of boys, I know it is frequently hard to get boys interested in reading…this is the perfect series for them. We see everything from the main character Jonah’s point of view, in all its pre-teen/teenage glory. But on that note I feel like I should say that it is very clean. No foul language, no dirty jokes, nothing. Very refreshing.
I wouldn’t really classify this as a young adult book, but it is definitely a book that adults and teens would like, even though it is a kid’s book. Think along the lines of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson as far as the ages of the characters. So whether you are 11, 21, or 51, I think you could enjoy this series. I know that I do! These are perfect for a parent and child to read together – intellectual, funny, clean, thought-provoking, and intriguing. My kind of book :). I wonder if they have them available as audiobooks? If so, that would be a great book to listen to as a family on your way to the beach this summer (if you have kids around that pre-teen age, of course). Might be something worth looking into.
Anyway, enjoy! If you happen to read these this summer, let me know what you think!