Persuasive Essay 2011 Honorable Mention

Matthew Molinari, grade 5
Hale Kula Elementary School
   

Suspense, a great quality in a book

   "Right here. Right now. They have you." Katherine ‘s words give us goose bumps as we realize the 36 missing children of history have been reunited again.  In Margaret Peterson Haddix's book Found, she uses cliffhangers at the end of each chapter to grab the readers' attention and to introduce new information and conflict.

    Cliffhangers grab the reader's attention. J.B. and Mr. Hodge argue in front of Jonah and Chip in the time-traveling cave: “J.B. was still glaring at Hodge and Gary” (284). "Glaring" suggests looking angrily, as if J.B., Hodge, and Gary have a dark history that makes the reader want to know more.  This grabs our attention because the reader asks: "what are they talking about?" This is a hero versus villain situation—Hodge wants to get away with a scheme while JB wants to stop him.  When Hodge was explaining his side, “he closed his eyes, pained beyond words” (284). "Pained" suggests reliving a difficult experience causing Hodge to be outraged. J.B counters, “Interchronological Rescue got sloppy, he accused.”  "Accused" suggests blaming. J.B. and Hodge are foes that have battled through the space-time continuum and are not taking responsibility for the time ripple as they are arguing about what to do. Jonah and Chip realize they have no control over their former lives anymore.  This scene is important because without it the thirty-six kids, nor the reader, would know why the kids are called "the missing" and who the kids really are. We also realize from reading this, finding out "who they are" isn't so simple and that the good and the bad guys aren't clearly defined.

    Introducing new information at the end of a chapter makes for good suspense. When Jonah gets the letter he reads: "There were only six:  YOU ARE ONE OF THE MISSING" (20). It makes the reader wonder, why would Jonah be one of the missing?  Who are the missing?”   Later, JB explains what this means.  "That's who you are," J.B. said quietly. You're the missing children of history."  When Chip first receives the letter that he is one of the missing, he thinks it is a prank, until his dad confirms he was adopted. "Are you adopted?" Jonah whispered. Wordlessly, Chip nodded." (30). That excerpt gives new information that Chip is adopted, and his parents never told him that until now. Shocking new information is suspenseful.

   The cliffhangers also introduce new conflict. "When you're a grown-up," Jonah said, "you can try to find your birth parents. You won't need your mom and dad's permission for anything then. And until then-until then, I swear, I'll do everything I can to help you." Chip is having conflict with his parents for keeping the information of his adoption secret for thirteen years. Because of this sudden shocking truth and for keeping it for such a long time "you're adopted" must have sounded like a gunshot to Chip. Another example: "Seconds later, Jonah heard the gunshot. "Continuing into the next chapter, you read that Hodge fired the shot.  You can tell that he means business and throughout those last chapters we learn that J.B. and Hodge are rivals so that sentence helps introduce that they are foes. "Jonah, raised the Elucidater, but only to point it at J.B. "No" he said." (266), Jonah struggles with what he thought and what he knows now. Even though, as far as we know Mr. Hodge and Gary are the villains.

   Margaret Peterson Haddix writes cliffhangers to grab readers' attention and propels them forward making it virtually impossible to stop reading by building suspense with new information and conflict at the end of each chapter.