Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

This spring when educator friends went to IRA in Chicago I was jealous. As tweets came out about the advanced reading copies they found, there was one in particular I was dying to read, Capture the Flag by Kate Messner.

See when I first joined Twitter almost three years ago, I somehow found Kate then. Her new book, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z was coming out that September. I knew she was a teacher. I still remember going to Barnes and Noble and seeing the book on the shelves, taking a picture and tweeting it to her after I bought it. She said it was the first viewing of it in the wild. J

After reading and falling in love with Gianna, I shared it with my school librarian. She decided to base our family reading night around it and Kate agreed to Skype with our school. It was wonderful and cemented me forever as a fan of Kate Messner.

Along the way she has written more amazing books – Sugar and Ice, the Marty McGuire series, Eye of the Storm, Sea Monster’s First Day, and Over and Under the Snow. I have purchased and loved them all. So now you can understand my jealousy of the wonderful friends who were reading Capture the Flag!

Flash forward to yesterday.  John Schu had Kate visit his blog to discuss the new book. Kate even posted on the Nerdy Book Club discussing her love of reading and researching. (There is a giveaway of the book on both blogs!) I was quickly checking again to see the release date for Capture the Flag, had they miraculously moved it up to June 1st? Nope, still July 1st. Then someone tweeted gratitude to Kate, Capture the Flag had been delivered to their mailbox today. The seed of hope was planted. Sometimes Scholastic sends me copies of her books ahead of time, but they are delivered to school. I raced to school, said hello to our wonderful secretaries, and turned to my mailbox. I let out a loud, “WOO HOO!” which made them jump. A package! It was here!

Quick goodbyes all around and I drove home. I told their boys they were on their own for a bit and dove onto my bed to read.

How to quickly summarize this book is difficult. It reminded me of the National Treasure movies (and one of the kids even said that in the book.) Three children; Anna, Jose, and Henry, meet at the start of the book. All of them are from Vermont but are in Washington D.C. at an event their parents (or aunt) has been invited to at the Smithsonian. Once the event is over someone steals the famous flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner”. This is announced on the news the next day when the kids and their families are at the airport trying to fly home. However D.C. has been hit by a blizzard and all flights are cancelled. The children at this point meet each other and then eventually decide that if they are stuck, the culprits might be stuck too. At first they are only casually trying to solve the crime. But as they get personally involved, and the stakes rise, they race against time (and flight departures) to finish the job.

I loved the story. It was a fast paced adventure. There were small lessons woven in throughout the book that would make this an excellent read aloud to a class. My only disappointment was at the end of the book. I had grown attached to these characters but I was still wondering what was going to happen to them. To my great delight Kate tweeted yesterday that yes, there is a sequel. So thrilled about that. I could see this as a wonderful series. I think if you have students who enjoy this they would also like C. Alexander London’s Accidental Adventure series or Tom Angleberger’s hilarious Fake Mustache. I highly, highly recommend this book.