I've always been one to share the love of books, so if I read something I think someone else will like, I make sure to get a copy into their hands. CATCH THE FLAG is one of my books I've given my younger cousins, and they told me that it is one of their favorites.
It's not entirely surprising. This middle grade mystery is set in one of the Smithsonian buildings in Washington D.C., a place where they've spent plenty of time themselves. Plus, Kate Messner is a skilled author who knows her way around writing an exciting action scene.
Now that you have a recommendation from two girls actually in the target age group, here's what I wrote my original review in 2012:
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.