Friday, May 25, 2012

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

Published by Scholastic, June 2012
Anna, Jose, and Henry have all been dragged along to a gala event at the Smithsonian celebrating the restoration of the flag that inspired "The Star Spangled Banner." As another boring adult party, the night wouldn't be remembered if it weren't also the night the flag was stolen. Stuck at the airport the next morning, waiting out a snowstorm, news of the theft breaks. Anna, a budding journalist, convinces Jose and Henry that if they're stuck at the airport, the thief (and the flag) must be, too. With a presidential hopeful trying to pin the theft on a group of international musicians and a suspicious restaurant owner with a snake tattoo, Anna, Jose, and Henry have a suspects and a mystery to solve. On their way they meet Sinan, whose musician parents have been falsely accused, and his poodle. Their meeting brings them to the maze-like depths of the airport, and all the secrets packed away in people's luggage.

Kate Messner's exploration of the baggage area, with its tunnels, drops, and conveyer belts is a mix of theme park and video game, in other words, a whole lot of fun. Anna, a nosy budding journalist, Jose the bookworm, and Henry, video game fanatic, create a well-rounded team, and readers are sure to identify with at least one. That being said, the characters, especially the adults, lack depth. While Messner begins to round out Henry when he forges a relationship with Sinan, the others never quite feel fully formed. The resolution of the novel was a little too obvious, but hopefully younger readers won't be as jaded toward politicians and will therefore find the mystery a little more mysterious. That being said, I'm interested to see where the Silver Jaguars will take Ms. Messner next...

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