cover image Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag

Kate Messner. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-545-39539-7

Messner (Eye of the Storm) opens a mystery series with a novel as cinematic in execution as it is patriotic in theme—at one point, a character compares this adventure to the Jerry Bruckheimer–produced film National Treasure, and that’s not a bad call (though this story is free of explosions). After the flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” is stolen during a gala at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., three seventh-graders, stranded at the airport during a freak snowstorm, investigate its disappearance, guessing that the storm might mean that the flag is at the airport, too. Not only were all three children—Anna, José, and Henry—at the Smithsonian event, it turns out they all have family members in the secret Silver Jaguar Society, whose members “made a promise to protect the world’s artifacts, and passed that promise down through generations.” Readers with even a few mystery novels under their belts will have no trouble picking up the clues Messner drops throughout this entertaining if conventional escapade. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (July)