Manhunt

*Note: Read Kate Messner’s Capture the Flag and Hide and Seek, the first two Silver Jaguar Society mysteries, before you read Manhunt!

In Manhunt, Henry, Anna, and Jose are once again embroiled in the business of the Silver Jaguar Society, the secret agency tasked with protecting the world’s most valuable art and artifacts. This time, the adventure begins in Boston after it’s discovered that the Serpentine Princes, the bitter enemies of the Silver Jaguar Society, have somehow managed to steal priceless art from museums around the world. How did they manage to pull this off without alerting anyone? And what could be their next target?

Soon enough, the quest for answers takes our trio and their guardians to Paris…and that’s where things really get complicated. It seems that someone within the Silver Jaguar Society is passing information on to the Serpentine Princes, so no one really knows who can be trusted.

One thing is clear, though. Something big is happening in Paris. We’re talking huge here. The bad guys, led by the horrible Vincent Goosen, are trying to get their hands on the Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous painting in the world. While the adult members of the Silver Jaguar Society go off to figure out what to do, they leave Henry, Anna, and Jose in a Parisian bookstore with an enigmatic young man named Hem.

Now, Henry doesn’t quite trust Hem, but he can’t deny that this kid definitely knows his way around Paris…and when the adults mysteriously disappear, Henry and his friends will need Hem’s knowledge to solve their biggest mystery yet. Where is the Mona Lisa, and, more importantly, where are the senior members of the Silver Jaguar Society?

This epic adventure takes these young people all over–and under–the bustling city of Paris, and danger lurks around every corner. These kids will have to evade enemies, decipher clues–written in French–navigate an unfamiliar city, and face their fears to make sense of what’s going on. But what happens when they are betrayed by a supposed ally? When they are separated, and the success of this operation depends on just one kid, one who makes it clear that he just wants to go home?

Can the junior members of the Silver Jaguar Society solve one more mystery? Can they battle treachery, terror, and nearly crippling self-doubt and emerge victorious? Will the Mona Lisa be restored to its rightful place and the Serpentine Princes vanquished? For these answers and more, join Henry, Anna, and Jose on a manhunt like no other!

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Hide and Seek

Warning: You must read Capture the Flag, the first book in this series, before reading Hide and Seek

This series revolves around several young people who–along with their parents–are tasked with protecting the world’s art and artifacts. They’re known as the Silver Jaguar Society. In Capture the Flag, as the title suggests, the kids–Anna, Henry, and Jose–end up saving the original Star Spangled Banner. In Hide and Seek, though, their adventures take them far away from home and into the rain forests of Costa Rica…

Just when Anna, Henry, and Jose think that things will get just a little back to normal, their world is rocked once again. A priceless Central American artifact–and treasure of the Silver Jaguar Society–has been stolen. The Jaguar Cup was replaced with a fake, and the members of the Society are in a scramble to find out who took the original.

This mad scramble takes the Society–and its most junior members–to Costa Rica. While their parents take off on what appears to be a hot lead, Anna, Henry, and Jose remain behind at a rain forest lodge to await news. But it seems that the real mystery is at the lodge, and, once again, it will be up to a bunch of kids to save an artifact that means so much to so many.

The quest for truth will lead this merry band through a rain forest teeming with danger. But the danger won’t just come from the elements. No, the real danger will come from those who seek to claim the Jaguar Cup for their own.

How can a group of kids battle against crazed adults bent on claiming treasures at any cost? What fears will they have to face in order to come out on top? And will they finally vanquish the enemies of the Silver Jaguar Society? Join Anna, Henry, Jose, and friends in their quest for the truth when you read Hide and Seekby Kate Messner!

Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner  is a contemporary mystery that is an excellent read for upper elementary and middle grade readers. Any young (or older) readers intrigued by the Indiana Jones or National Treasure movies will find something to enjoy in this first installment in what is sure to be a gripping new series.

A flag has been stolen from the Smithsonian, but this is not just any flag. It’s the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Who would dare to take such a priceless piece of American history? What could the possible motive be? It’s not like this would be something that could be easily sold, so why would someone take something that means so much to so many? That’s what a few curious kids are going to find out…

Anna, Henry, and José are snowed in at the airport in Washington, DC, and, when they hear about the theft of the newly restored flag, they become convinced that whoever took the flag must be snowed in as well. What starts as a way to pass the time soon becomes a quest to uncover a mystery with the potential to shake the nation. Along the way, they’ll encounter a man running for president (who has an odd fondness for Tootsie Rolls), tuba players from Pakistan, a guy with a snake tattoo, and a really large poodle.

They’ll also discover that they share a common bond. Anna, Henry, and José are all descended from artists or artisans who’ve sworn to protect the world’s artistic treasures. So what choice do they really have?! They must find the stolen flag before someone points the finger at the wrong person. But what can three kids do in a crowded airport with tight security? A whole lot, apparently. (As it turns out, airport security–at least in this story–isn’t designed to thwart three pre-teen detectives.)

As these three kids attempt to reveal the truth, they’ll step into a mess with huge ramifications. Can they get out of this safely and still uncover who’s behind the flag theft? And will they be prepared for what they eventually find? Who really captured the flag? Find out when you read this exciting tale of mystery and adventure by Kate Messner!

I look forward to sharing this book with my students. It has lots of literary allusions that I think many of my students–particularly fans of Harry Potter–will enjoy. I also know of several of my male students who will love this book simply because it’ll remind them of National Treasure. This book, while predictable for many adult readers, will keep younger readers enthralled from the first page. Even younger readers may think they know who is behind the theft, but it’s still a bit thrilling to read how this mystery reaches its inevitable conclusion. I will say, though, that the adults in this book were totally oblivious to what was going on around them. As a fine, upstanding adult (*snicker*), I was a little perturbed by how little these grown-ups noticed what these kids were doing. Young readers, though, will enjoy that a group of kids got up to all of these shenanigans right under adults’ noses.

If any of this has piqued your interest, I urge you to give Capture the Flag a try. You can visit the author’s website or check out her Twitter feed to learn even more.

The Red Pyramid

In The Red Pyramid, we meet estranged siblings Carter and Sadie Kane.  When their mother died, the siblings were split up.  Carter traveled the world with their archaeologist father while Sadie lived with their maternal grandparents in London.  This Christmas, though, the brother and sister will be reunited for what they think will be an uneventful holiday with their father.  They could not be more wrong.  And it all starts when they blow up the British Museum.

As you can imagine, an explosion in a popular museum is a pretty big deal.  It’s an even bigger deal when the explosion causes your dad to be imprisoned in a sarcophagus and several gods to be released into the world.  It seems that dear old Dad was up to something, and it’s up to Carter and Sadie to figure out what’s going on and set things right before the world devolves into complete chaos.  But how?  How can two kids who barely know each other unite to stop Set, one of the gods who was released, from destroying all of North America?

Well, Carter and Sadie aren’t exactly normal kids (as you may have guessed).  They are descended from pharaohs, and have the potential to be very, very powerful, especially when it becomes clear that a couple of Egyptian deities have taken up residence in their heads.  Carter and Sadie are also being assisted by their Uncle Amos (who may or may not be on their side), the cat goddess, Bast (who Sadie always knew as Muffin, a beloved pet), a magical baboon named Khufu, an albino alligator called Philip of Macedonia, and a few gods, goddesses, and magicians that have agendas of their own.

Carter and Sadie must stop Set from completing construction on his red pyramid before sunrise on Set’s birthday.  If they don’t, the pyramid will become a magical force that will ensure the spread of chaos and desolation across the continent and eventually all over the world.  Can Carter and Sadie, two kids with very limited knowledge of their magical heritage, possibly defeat such a powerful force?  What sacrifices will they have to make to even the odds?  Will Carter and Sadie (and their lovely assistants) be able to restore balance to the world, or will chaos reign forever?  Read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan to find out!

I truly enjoyed how Riordan melded the modern world to Ancient Egypt in this book.  It was interesting to read about how the Egyptian belief system evolved, and devolved, over time and how Carter and Sadie were charged with restoring it to its former glory.  I appreciated how many of the gods and goddesses were viewed as neither good nor bad.  Each being had both flaws and redeeming qualities.  Additionally, I liked how Carter and Sadie grew closer together throughout the book.  They were at their most powerful when they were united.  I also loved the subtle allusion to the events in the Percy Jackson series at the beginning of the book.  (It’s one of those blink-and-you-miss-it kind of things, so be on the lookout.)

As I’m sure you probably know, The Red Pyramid is the first book in a series, The Kane Chronicles.  The second book, The Throne of Fire, is already out.  The third book in the series is scheduled for a spring 2012 release.  If you’d like more information on this series or author Rick Riordan, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/my-books/kane-chronicles.aspx.  Have fun!