Margaret Peterson Haddix demonstrates her flair for science fiction writing in her latest series, The Missing. In Found, a plane with no pilot and thirty-six babies as passengers produces quite a dilemma for the FBI. Officials quickly place the children with adoptive parents and hope the case is closed. Thirteen years later, Jonah and his friend Chip begin receiving mysterious notes and decide to learn more about their birth parents. Their search draws them into a conflict between time travelers.
Kidnappers “saved” famous people from the past immediately before an untimely death or unexplained disappearance, with the intention of selling them to childless parents in the future. An accident landed them in the twentieth century, and the time police (J.B.) are determined to return the children to their “correct” time period. Insisting that this crime has altered the path of history, J.B. begins sending the children “home”, knowing that he is sending most of them to their death. For Jonah and the others, however, the twentieth century is the only era they know–and they do not want to leave it. Jonah, with the help of his spunky younger sister Katherine, resolves to help the kidnapped children remain with their twentieth century families. In Sent and Sabotaged, they travel to the past with their new friends and experience firsthand many of the things they have learned in social studies class.
A keen sense of right and wrong motivate Jonah, though his concern about outsmarting the time travelers becomes somewhat tedious in the third book. Haddix portrays adoption in a positive light. Jonah and Katherine, who is not herself adopted, have a close relationship. Haddix’s fast paced novels raise the question as to whether destiny or free will determines a person’s life. Reluctant readers will appreciate the short, simple chapters and finish the first three books in the series anticipating the next installment.