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Capture the Flag
Kate Messner


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What You Need to Know:
• A hidden garden motivates a lonely girl and her grieving cousin to move past their troubles.
• The story was inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.
• Ellen Potter is also the author of The Kneebone Boy.
• The main character has to deal with the murder of her father and his girlfriend.
• There are some spine-chilling, eerie moments, but they only hint at something awful.
Sweet Book Summary:
This captivating story is a must read. It is the kind of book that lingers, forcing you to think about the characters even after you put it down. Twelve year old Roo has suffered an unimaginable tragedy. Although the details are never revealed, her father and his girlfriend have been murdered. We first meet Roo as the police investigate, and she hides under the trailer that had been her home. She is a solitary child, with a stronger connection to plants and animals than to people. She is happiest when she can curl up and make herself small, tucking herself into a safe hiding place.

After the murder, Roo learns that her father had a wealthy brother, and she is taken to live in his mysterious and desolate island mansion. Will Roo find happiness there? The disturbing history of her new home, which had once functioned as a children's hospital, coupled with her uncle's peculiar behavior and the secrecy of his staff, makes Roo wonder if it is much better than the foster home she left behind. It doesn't take long, though, for her to find some compelling reasons to stick around. In the process, she stumbles upon a once-beautiful, hidden garden, meets a mysterious boy and discovers her troubled cousin. There is something about her new home that feels both enchanted and haunted at the same time. As the strong and capable Roo suffers through her own loss, she manages to restore the neglected garden and heal her cousin.

The plot closely follows The Secret Garden's storyline, but is enhanced by Ellen Potter's perfectly unique portrayal of her own characters. Although the story is timeless, she adds a feeling of modern edginess to it.
Author: Ellen Potter Illustrator: n/a Published: 2012, 192 pages
Themes: Family Life, Friendship, Illness/Death, Mystery, Self-Awareness/Discovery
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• How does Roo cope with her situation?
• Are other people's opinions important to you?
• Why does the garden inspire Roo?
• What do you think happens next for Roo and Phillip?
• Who is Jack? Where do you think he lives?
• In what ways are Jack and Roo similar?
• Do you think the garden is haunted? Do you believe in spirits?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
The Willoughbys, Lois Lowry
Liesl & Po, Lauren Oliver
The Dreamer, Pam Munoz Ryan
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
Support Independent Book Shops: Click Here to Buy this Book on IndieBound
*Full disclosure - We receive review copies. We're not compensated for our reviews.

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