July 1, 2012

Review: Capture the Flag

Book Cover By Kate Messner
Available now from Scholastic Press
Review copy

I set this review to post on the release date, but I read it during the Seventh Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.  I also wrote it during that challenge, starting at about 2:20 in the morning.  If this gets posted with serious errors, please forgive me. I went to sleep midway through writing the review because I kept misspelling things.

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.


  1. I heard about this book but it sounded a little too young for me. Looks like a good one for younger readers though!

    1. Yeah, it's a good gift if you know a younger reader who likes mysteries, but probably not for you.

  2. I am reading this one (picked it up at BEA!), and enjoying it so far, but I agree with you that the target audience is on the younger side of the middle grade age range. All fun, though!

    1. Yep, nothing wrong with a book for the a book for the younger set.

  3. Sounds really cute, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading it overall. Definitely sounds great for a younger crowd. I like the premise though. How fun!


    1. It seems like it might be setting up a series too.

  4. Great review! Although I haven't heard of it before it sounds like a fun read :-)



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