When the cultural treasures of the world are threatened, the Silver Jaguar Society comes to the rescue. When the original US flag is stolen from the Smithsonian and likely stuck in a DC area airport during the snow storm of the century, it's up to whoever is at hand.
In this case that means three kids with ties to the Society — but certainly not membership — a Pakistani boy whose parents play tuba in a world-traveling orchestra, and a poodle.
Capture the Flag is fun adventure, especially the bits that happen in the bowels of baggage handling. (Who doesn't secretly want to ride those conveyor belts!) But it also has a serious side. There is a presidential election going on. One candidate is desperate to make in-roads against the other (whose winning platform seems to be "let's sit down and discuss this over home-made cake & coffee"). As in real life, the term "American" is being bullied about and sent through the wringer of political rhetoric. The desperate candidate — conveniently trapped in the same airport — is currying favor by drawing lines around this country, pointing fingers at anybody who is "not us", and placing more and more people into that category.
In particular, he has it in for tuba-playing Pakistanis.
This is a great classroom book, especially for this election year. Kate Messner makes learning fun — learning about history and politics, about the ways we decide who is "us" and who is "them", about journalism and its role in disseminating information. And it seems that there are more books to come. The conclusion implies that, even though the bad guy is behind bars and the flag is safe once again, more adventures await the new Junior Silver Jaguars.
Unfortunately, I think the poodle's role is over.