Available now from Scholastic Press
I choose to read CAPTURE THE FLAG because I needed a quick, easy read. During a gala at the Smithsonian, the newly restored Star-Spangled Banner is stolen. A blizzard shuts down the airport for a day, leaving the thieves stranded as well as holiday travelers. Three children decide that they're going to discover the identity of the thieves.
Anna Revere-Hobbs, the ringleader, wants to be a reporter like her mother. Henry Thorn wants to play his video games and not go home since his dad is remarrying and moving. José McGilligan loves reading Harry Potter and collecting quotes. All three of them, coincidentally, turn out to be children of a secret society protecting art. CAPTURE THE FLAG ends with the possibility of more adventures for these three.
Not billed on the cover or flap and likely not returning is the even younger Sinan, an eight-year-old Pakistani boy accompanying his parents in the Sounds for the Small Planet symphony. The three befriend him and become personally dedicated to finding the cause when the symphony is accused of stealing the flag.
The thieves are pretty obvious, but younger readers might fall for the red herring. I expected CAPTURE THE FLAG to contain some history, which it does, but I was not expecting the subtle exploration of racism. For example, it is not coincidental that a group of dark-skinned foreigners are used as the fall guys.
There are some fun set pieces where the kids crawl around the baggage area, but I don't think there's much in CAPTURE THE FLAG to interest older readers. It's a good, timely read for young readers but too simple for a crossover audience.