Capture the Flag

8 07 2012

First there was The Lightning Thief, a fantastic adventure set in modern day, with a hero that today’s kids can relate to, but ties in the myths of ancient Greece – suddenly every 6th grader I knew was reading the Percy Jackson books and volumes of ancient myths.  Rick Riordan will forever be on my list of super-geniuses, simply because he figured out how to get kids to read and read and read and read.

He did it again with the Kane Chronicles series, which ties in the myths of ancient Egypt, and once again has young kids reading new books, while consulting the old ones to better understand the mysteries and twists and turns.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet an incredible author named Sherman Alexie (highly recommend his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), who is Native-American.  He stated, jokingly (I think) that his own kids were so wrapped up in the Percy Jackson books that he felt he should create a modern adventure story that ties in Native-American myths and legends.  He probably should.

There’s also the Artemis Fowl books, which incorporate Irish mythology into a modern story, the Runemarks series (Norse mythology), The Clockwork Dark series (American Tall Tales), The Children of the Lamp series (Egyptian again), The Conch Bearer and its sequels (Indian folklore), The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kroop (King Arthur legends), Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Chinese folklore), Alif the Unseen (Arabian fairy tales), and probably dozens of other similar books and series.

Now there’s Capture the Flag by Kate Messner.  This one is going to be a dream for American History teachers, because it’s a modern adventure with three strong teenage heroes (two boys and one girl) that, like the Percy Jackson books, ties in a bit of history – only this time it’s American History.

You see, someone has stolen the flag – the original – you know, the one that that one lady sewed and that other dude wrote that song about – yeah, that flag.   The only people who can help just happen to be three teens who don’t know one another, but soon find that they share one important thing in common – they are all descendants of important figures in American history, and as such, are destined to be members of the Silver Jaguar Society – a secret group responsible for protecting important American artifacts.

You don’t have to know much about U.S. history to understand the book, but like The Lightning Thief (and all those other books up above), it will make readers want to brush up on some while they’re reading.  Even if you know nothing about history, Capture the Flag is a fun, fast-paced adventure that is perfect for middle-grades readers.  Believable and likable characters, twists and turns, lots of action, and you get to see what happens to your suitcase at the airport after it goes down the little conveyor belt and past the plastic curtains.

In my book, reading that makes readers want to do more reading on top of the reading their already doing is the best kind of reading.  This is that kind of book.

I’m on a mission to read 90 books in 90 days this summer.  Capture the Flag was #32.

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