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Capture the Flag
Kate Messner


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Manhunt PDF Print E-mail
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Kate Messner

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What You Need to Know:
• When prominent artwork is stolen from museums around the world, it's up to the three junior members of the
  Silver Jaguar Society to save the day.
Manhunt is the third book in The Silver Jaguar Society Mysteries series and includes references to the first two
  books so, while not necessary, it might be helpful to read them in order.
• The story is set in Paris and includes many real-life sights, art exhibits, and attractions for which the city is famous.
• Kate Messner knows her readers - she was a middle school teacher for fifteen years.
• This book is a great selection for both boys and girls.
• Here's the Sweet on Books review of book one, Capture the Flag.
Sweet Book Summary:
The Silver Jaguar Society is responsible for protecting the world's artifacts, so when a dozen museums are robbed in one night, the Silver Jaguars have work to do. Henry, Anna and Jose, the three junior members of the society, are told about the missing art and a potential double agent in their organization, but the adults (which include Anna and Jose's parents and Henry's aunt) don't share the details of the operation. All the kids know about the mission is that it involves a trip to Paris. Not long after they arrive there, however, their family members disappear. The kids are left essentially on their own, except for Hem and Ursa, two young society members who may or may not be the traitor in their midst. With time on their hands and no supervision, Henry, Anna and Jose set out on their own to investigate the missing artwork and to rescue their families.

Their search takes them from their home base at Paris' famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore to several Parisian hot spots including the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Foucault's pendulum, and the Catacombs. They eat crepes, take the batobus, and go to a boulangerie. In fact, if your reader isn't a Francophile already, this book just may inspire an interest in, if not a trip to, the beautiful city of Paris. While the setting plays a big role in the story, so does the mystery which requires the kids to work together, follow clues and think analytically. All the while, they're on the lookout for their arch enemy, Vincent Goosen, a sinister art-thief who is the head of an international crime organization called the Serpentine Princes.

While the kids discuss artists like Degas, Monet and Van Gogh and artwork like the Mona Lisa and Starry Night, they also refer to pop culture, video games and popular books like Harry Potter and Chasing Vermeer. The story is fast-paced and focused on action more so than thoughts and feelings, but Henry's anxiety about his dad and stepmom's new baby is an underlying theme throughout the book. The events in Manhunt may be somewhat far-fetched, but it is fun to read. Filled with adventure, friendship and, yes, some subtle educational material, it's a book that you can feel good about putting in your reader's hands.
Author: Kate Messner Illustrator: n/a Published: 2014, 240 pages
Themes: Adventure, Art, Books for Boys, Family Life, Friendship, Mystery
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Which of the society members do you like the best, Anna, Jose or Henry?
• Is it right for the three junior members to take things into their own hands and try to solve the mystery themselves?
• Why doesn't Henry feel in charge of his life?
• How does Henry feel about having a new baby in his family?
• Does Henry do the right thing when he decides to leave Paris - and his friends?
• What is it about Hem that bothers Henry?
• Why does Henry trust Ursa over Hem?
• Of all the places mentioned in the book, which of the sights in Paris would you most like to visit?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Chris Grabenstein
The Sixty-Eight Rooms, Marianne Malone
Masterpiece, Elise Broach
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.
The Boy on the Porch PDF Print E-mail
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The Boy on the Porch
Sharon Creech

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What You Need to Know:
• A young couple discover a small boy sleeping on their porch, and their lives are forever changed.
• The boy is mute and must find ways to communicate without words.
• The story is told from the parents' point of view, which is a unique perspective for a young reader.
• There are some challenging words like audible, gambol, and derelict.
• Use this discussion guide to discuss The Boy on the Porch in the classroom.
Sweet Book Summary:
The Boy on the Porch is a tender story about Marta and John, a young couple who discover a little boy asleep on their porch. Despite their initial shock and confusion, they take him in, care for him, and grow to love him. Although the boy, called Jacob, doesn't speak, they learn to communicate through his tapping, his music, and his paintings. Marta and John don't know much about children, but they find themselves looking for ways to make the boy happy and realize that his smile makes them happy too. Life on their remote little farm takes on new meaning, but how long will the boy stay? Will the person that left him on their porch come back to claim him?

This timeless story has the rhythm of a folktale and sheds light on the gratification that can come from connecting with other people. Yes, Marta and John give Jacob a home, but he fills an emptiness that they didn't even realize was there. Their lives become richer and more complete with every day that Jacob is with them. While the story is told with an ease and simplicity that is consistent with the tranquility of life on the farm, the vocabulary, perspective and deeper message give greater weight to the book. It's a great choice for classroom discussion or for a reader who is more comfortable with reflection rather than action.
Author: Sharon Creech Illustrator: n/a Published: 2013, 176 pages
Themes: Adoption, Compassion/Empathy, Family Life, Life Challenges, Physical/Mental Differences
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• How do John and Marta feel about the boy when they first discover him?
• How do those feelings change over time?
• What type of person is the sheriff?
• Do you think that John and Marta do the right thing when they tell the sheriff about Jacob?
• What is your guess as to why Jacob is mute?
• How does Jacob communicate without words?
• Where do you think the story takes place? In what time period?
• How do the many foster children that come to stay on the farm impact John and Marta's lives?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
The Great Unexpected, Sharon Creech
The Willoughbys, Lois Lowry
Touch Blue, Cynthia Lord
This recommendation was written by: Melissa G.