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Capture the Flag
by
Kate Messner


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What You Need to Know:
• Adventure is the name of the game in this story geared to young boys.
• Three chapters in the book are based on stories Paulsen published in early 2000 in Boy’s Life magazine.
• Some of the stunts they try are pretty dangerous but no one gets hurt.
• The main characters handle the school bully very well.
• The boys encounter a few mildly scary moments during their adventures.
• The boys also lie to their parents about where they will be and what they’re doing.
Sweet Book Summary:
This book should have “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME” stamped across the front. Three best friends, Henry, Reed and Riley plan some pretty crazy (and honestly, unrealistic) missions in this book. From biking off a third floor roof to an explosion in the school science lab and a runaway dog sled, they narrowly escape injury with each adventure. Each of the boys plays a very specific role. Henry is the leader who decides that their lives are boring and that they need to create some excitement for themselves. Riley goes along to see what happens, believes in always being prepared “for any eventuality” and meticulously documents each of their adventures. Anxious and nervous about every scheme, Reed is nevertheless gently prodded and persuaded into becoming an active participant, generally taking the brunt of it when things go wrong.

The boys work together, achieve (or adjust) their goals, and even stand up to the school bully along the way. They are kind and complimentary to each other, although they do push Reed to do things that he wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. Somehow, they even make him feel like he is a success even when he ends up sliding through every kind of disgusting sludge, slime and excrement you can imagine. There is plenty of “gross out” humor for those that like that type of thing. At the same time, the boys are also clever and well spoken. As a result, you’ll find some more challenging language, like sycophants, “parabolic projectile curve,” and “document and authenticate.” The plot is predictable – each chapter is a self-contained story that begins with Henry’s concept and ends with the plans having gone somewhat awry, but the boys still finding a rationale for success. A few minor characters appear throughout but don’t play important roles. While the boys mention lying to their parents so that they can get together for their missions, the families are basically non-existent so the boys have plenty of freedom to do whatever they choose.
Author: Gary Paulsen Illustrator: n/a Published: 2010, 112 pages
Themes: Adventure, Books for Boys, Bullying, Friendship, Humor
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Should the boys be more honest with their parents?
• Can you come up with an adventure of your own?
• Do you think the story is realistic?
• Which adventure did you like the best?
• Do you like the way the boys deal with the bully, Dwight?
• Which of the three boys do you relate to the most or is most like you?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
My Life as a Book, Janet Tashjian
Melonhead, Katy Kelly
How Oliver Olson Changed the World, Claudia Mills
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
Support Independent Book Shops: Click Here to Buy this Book on IndieBound
 

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