Author: Kate Messner
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication Date: July 1, 2012
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction-Mystery/Novel
GoodReads Summary: Three kids get caught up in an adventure of historic proportions!
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.
What I Think: I have loved everything I have ever read by Kate Messner - and at this point that's almost everything she has published minus her book on writing, Real Revisions because it's in my summer reading pile and her two early historical fiction books (because I didn't know they existed until I just checked GoodReads). Capture the Flag is another great addition to the Kate Messner writing empire. It's fun to have seen how Kate's writing has evolved since I read The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. I loved the scientific dystopian side to Eye of the Storm and now Capture the Flag has a mystery feel to a book that involves history even though it's set in the present.
In the Capture the Flag, the characters themselves comment that their adventure is like the movie National Treasure. I love how the kids are in D.C. and find themselves in a place where they can help solve the mystery of who committed the crime of stealing the actual flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner". The only time I have been to Washington, D.C. was to chaperone an 8th grade trip. I loved the experience and was able to visualize so much of what was happening in this book after having been to D.C. Not everyone has been to D.C., but lots of people have or are at least familiar with it. How awesome is this book that it will have kids wanting to go to D.C. to see where this all takes place?
The three main characters in this book are very unique, but they all ending up thinking quickly to be able to help each other and to help the flag. As a proud fan of girl-power characters, I was excited to see Kate do it again with Anna. Anna is really the one who gets the other kids motivated to save the flag. She is pretty awesome.
Any teacher is going to want to recommend this to students because of the intelligent characters who take charge even though they are kids. It's an exciting book while at the same time getting kids interested some history of our country. And, it's also funny! Kate has really captured the flag with this book!
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 8
Read With: Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger, We Are Not Eaten By Yaks (Accidental Adventure series) C Alexander London, Genius Files (series) by Dan Gutman, A Whole Nother Story by Cuthbert Soup, A Series of Unfortunate Events (series) by Lemony Snicket
Snatch of Text:
"'My dad's on a cruise with his new wife.' Henry said the word wife the way most people said toe jam or boogers." p. 36
"Anna threw her hands in the air. 'You are such boys! What is wrong with you? You spend your whole lives looking for excitement in video games and movies and books, and then when something big finally happens, you're too busy reading and poking at some SuperGameThingy to do the real, live, exciting thing right there in front of you!'
'Tuna melt?' The waitress held it over the table floating from person to person.
'That's me,' Anna said." p. 44
Mentor Text For: Background Knowledge, Asking Questions, Making Inferences, Making Connections, Characterization, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you had to take control of a situation, when you needed to depend on yourself to make something happen.
Topics Covered: Family, Friends, Creativity, Mystery, Crime, Integration - History, Courage, Not Giving Up
Jen *hearts* It: