Author: Kate Messner
Release Date: July 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 240
Source of Book: ARC from IRA Convention
Three kids get caught up in an adventure of historic proportions!I absolutely adore Kate Messner's writing. I really enjoyed EYE OF THE STORM and CAPTURE THE FLAG was no disappointment either. One of the things I like most about Kate Messner's books is that she writes smart, honest, real characters. In this book they read, they write, one is a genius at video games, but they all have many layers to their characters without getting overly emotionally involved as would happen in more young adult books. Her cast of characters is also multicultural allowing more kids to relate to the teens they're reading about in the books. I also appreciate that although there is a main female character, there are two male characters in prominent roles also, so there is gender-neutral appeal to this book.
Anna, José, and Henry are complete strangers with more in common than they realize. Snowed in together at a chaotic Washington D.C. airport, they encounter a mysterious tattooed man, a flamboyant politician, and a rambunctious poodle named for an ancient king. Even stranger, news stations everywhere have announced that the famous flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" has been stolen! Anna, certain that the culprits must be snowed in too, recruits Henry and José to help catch the thieves and bring them to justice.
But when accusations start flying, they soon realize there's more than justice at stake. As the snow starts clearing, Anna, José, and Henry find themselves in a race against time (and the weather!) to prevent the loss of an American treasure.
Another great thing about her books is the cross-curricular connections she makes. Especially in CAPTURE THE FLAG where there are many social studies/history ties to be made. In this book she has written a multilayered story with an intriguing mystery. I figured it out early on, but it is written for 3rd-7th graders, and I think it will appeal to them-especially if they're fans of heist stories. It's a fun story as the group is stuck overnight in an airport and as the kids band together to try to find the stolen flag, scene after scene builds up tension and humor as they find their way into all sorts of hidden places within the airport. It also has an exciting secret society aspect to it. I could see this turning into a great series. I know there's a sequel, but I hope there will be more than just one more book in this series. These could be characters who could solve these National Treasure (the movie) type mysteries in all different kinds of situations and meet other members of the society.
Kate Messner just has great writing. There are wonderful descriptions of things and exciting scenes/action, but still written at a level that middle schoolers will easily understand. CAPTURE THE FLAG has a great title and cover design sure to appeal to the intended audience. If you haven't read a Kate Messner book yet, and you're interested in middle grades books, I encourage you to do so soon, and CAPTURE THE FLAG would be a great start!