Persuasive Essay 2014 Winner

Cassidy Furutani
Grade 4
Kaneohe Elementary

It all started in the principal’s office when Rafe’s mom blurted out something that Rafe regretted. “His name was Leonardo,” Mom said. “For Leonardo da Vinci?” Donatello asked. “That’s right. Unfortunately, Leo died very young,” Mom said. “He got sick with meningitis when the boys were just three, and we lost him.” This passage made me feel an extremely powerful sadness in my heart and made me feel as if Rafe's mom was actually explaining to me this horrible event in Rafe's life. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts is a wonderful book that definitely deserves the 2013 Nene Award!

I absolutely love the way that the authors kept changing Leo’s character throughout the story. Leo started out as being Rafe’s “capital C Crazy, and capital O Off the wall” best friend, to being his imaginary friend, and ending with the truth. The surprising yet sad truth was that Leo was actually Rafe’s twin brother who had died. Throughout the story, I felt as if I was living in the story, knowing each character personally and actually having conversations with them (in my head). I was in a whole new world full of Rafe’s inventive imagination, showing me the secrets of surviving Middle School with a little help from Leo.

I totally got crushed when I noticed the cause and effect in the story. I realized that Rafe missed Leo so much that he actually imagined Leo being with him throughout his big disastrous adventure in middle school. They had conversations with each other. Together Rafe and imaginary Leo accomplished something that is not something to be too proud of. They, or in other words, Rafe, broke or disobeyed every rule in the Hills Village Middle School Code of Conduct, which caused a lot of distractions for just a lame old game. Without Leo, Rafe probably would not have made it on his crucial mission: SURVIVING MIDDLE SCHOOL!

The authors’ message is in this scene: Loved ones will be with you no matter what. When I thought about Rafe missing Leo so much that he imagined Leo being with him, I thought about one of my own rough experiences. I was just two when my grandpa passed away, leaving my family. We cried for a million years. (We’re still crying.) I do not remember much about him, but I sometimes pretend to talk to him after I fight with my cousins or hurt their feelings. Rafe and I both went through hard times, but we found a solution, one way or another.

Now do you understand why I enjoyed this book? It is full of twists and turns, hilarious scenes, and heart breaking moments. These are the elements that an award winning book should have. If you still do not get the message: Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts is a totally awesome book!