Monday, December 17, 2012

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner: Book Review

Capture the Flag
Author: Kate Messner
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2012
Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
Age: 8-12, Middle Grade fiction
Pages: 240

The opening chapter of this fun to read middle grade book sets the stage and suspense when a mysterious theft takes place at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum in Washington DC during a private social gathering. The famous American flag that inspired The Star-Spangled Banner has been stolen! Added to the security chaos that follows, no one can leave Washington, DC due to a huge blizzard. Anna, Henry and José, three seventh-graders who were at the social gathering with their parents, are now stuck at the airport waiting for their flights. It is only a matter of time before the three meet. Anna, being an aspiring journalist, is the first of the three to figure out that if everyone is stuck at the airport, so is the thief who stole the flag. A lot of discussion and speculation over a suspicious man they decide to call “Snake-Arm” follows that nearly brings the story to a crashing halt. Another character, Senator Snickerbottom, keeps Anna wanting to interview him and sidetracks their investigation. But eventually they meet eight-year-old Sinan and his dog, Hammurabi. The story then picks up when Sinan and his dog disappear. Anna, Henry and José offer to look for him but it is just the opportunity they need to find out who “Snake-Arm” really is. They are certain he knows something about the flag. But they are not prepared for the shocking discovery they soon uncover, and suddenly, their lives are in danger. From there the story is a rousing, fun ride through the airport on motorized carts and a luggage conveyer belt that takes them through an octopus of connecting belts and tunnels. They even get separated, leaving Anna with some important decisions to make in the end. Having just visited Washington DC and the American History Museum in October, I found  the location of this story intriguing. The villains are stereotypical, purposely comical it seems, but appropriate for this age group, and although the story drags somewhat in the middle, Messner's book is sure to appeal to elementary age readers.      

Copyright 2012 © Sharon Himsl