Monday, July 10, 2006

Chasing Vermeer

After finally finishing the Mark Twain bio, I took a bit of a break with Chasing Vermeer. A "thinking" children's book, Chasing Vermeer reminds me of E.L. Konigsberg's From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
Through a series of coincidences and strange happenings, Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay, students at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, become involved in the search for a stolen Vermeer painting. The art thief has stolen the painting to force art historians to reconsider their indentification of Vermeer's works - thief believes several paintings commonly attributed to Vermeer are actually imitations. Petra and Calder's search for the painting becomes not just a mystery but a puzzle as more and more strange connections between those invovled become apparent. What is significant and what is mere coincidence? Who can be trusted? And can Petra and Calder find the painting before it is lost forever?
Blue Balliett, a former teacher at the University of Chicago Lab Schools, has created a fabulously fun story using codes, maps, pictures and puzzles that will draw in readers young and old. Petra and Calder are incredibly fun, quirky characters - the sort of students any teacher would love to have (lucky Ms Hussey!). Besides deciphering coded letters and solving the mystery, readers
can also attempt to solve the reader's challenge, a series of clues hidden in Brett Helquist's wonderful illustrations. For more puzzles and hints - and for the answer to the reader's challenge, check out the book's website-
If you like this one, be sure to check out From the Mixed Up Files of..., and the new sequel to Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, a mystery about Frank Lloyd Wright.

Balliet, Blue. Chasing Vermeer. New York: Scholastic Press, 2004.
Konigsberg, E.L. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Atheneum, 1967.

What I'm Reading: I haven't decided yet!


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