The flag which Francis Scott Key used as inspiration to compose The Star Spangled Banner is stolen from the Smithsonian after a gala event. That evening four children with different ties to the museum and, consequently, the flag, meet by chance in the airport, waiting to board their flights home. A massive snowstorm shuts down the airport, canceling all flights in and out. When the news of the flag theft is broadcast the children further discover their various connections to the Silver Jaguar Society–a secret society formed by descendants of great American artists and inventors to protect the artistic and creative treasures of the United States. One of them–Anna Revere-Hobbs (descended from Paul Revere)–comes up with the idea that if they are all trapped at the airport, perhaps the thieves–and the flag!–are too. This is where their adventure begins.
The hunt for the flag and the culprits through the airport is mostly believable and lots of fun. The entire adventure takes place within a 24-hour period which allows the action to move at a good pace, the time constraints adding to the suspense of the plot, itself. Capture the Flag is a perfect choice among the Lovelace nominees this year for Division I readers (grades 3-5). It is a fun, engaging read. It’s a great introduction to the adventure/mystery/thriller genre in an absolutely age-appropriate context. In addition to being a terrific independent reading choice this is a great read-aloud for classroom or at home.
If young readers enjoy Capture the Flag, it provides a brilliant springboard into stories within this same genre that have increasingly complicated plots and language:
The Alex Rider novels by James Patterson (spy/thriller/adventure): Stormbreaker is #1 in the series.
Science Fair by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson (comic/spy/adventure)
The Mickey Bolitar novels by Harlan Coben in teen literature (mystery/thriller): Shelter is #1 in this series