Top positive review
Capture the Reader
Reviewed in the United States on January 19, 2013
Messner's book is a locked-room mystery in the sense that a bunch of people is trapped in an airport because of a snowstorm. Among those people are four kids who, after initial disinterest, team up to solve a mystery: someone has stolen the historic American flag that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner." Each of the kids has some sort of connection to the flag. To start with, all four of them were at a museum reception for the flag exhibit the evening before--and the flag was stolen that night. Anna's mother is a newscaster and her father is a Senator. She sees herself as a budding news reporter. José's mother worked on restoring the flag. Henry's aunt is a history buff, though Henry would far rather play video games. Sinan is the son of two members of an orchestra from Pakistan that performed at the exhibit--an orchestra that is eventually accused of stealing the flag. Sinan is the owner of a rambunctious poodle named Hammurabi, too.
Anna tries to get an interview with Senator Snickerbottom, who is also in the airport. He's leading up to a campaign for president. Then there's Snake Eye, a man with an odd tattoo who acts suspiciously. Throw in a couple of thugs while you're at it. Pretty soon Anna and her friends are sliding and hiding in the luggage area, where a lot of chase scenes in the book take place. Later we find out about a secret society.
The four kids are likable, each with his or her quirks. For example, as he learns English, Sinan keeps a notebook in which he draws pictures to help him remember expressions like "full of beans" and "killing time." These pictures are included in the book. Anna is intrepid, José is sweet but sturdy, and Henry is sucked into things against his will but proves helpful in the end. A lot of books have a main hero, but I liked meeting this ensemble cast.
Capture the Flag is a very kid-friendly book, with exciting yet ultimately non-perilous peril. I can easily see it being turned into a movie. I'll just end by saying that the book's title deserves to be in the Clever Title Hall of Fame.
First line: "They never should have unlocked the door."