By Blue Balliett
Illus. by Brett Helquist
Published by Scholastic Press
“Chasing Vermeer” is the story of Calder and Petra, two 6th graders in the same classroom, who live on the same street only houses apart, and who have never really spoken to each other outside of school. For some reason though they both get caught up in a mystery for the ages that has entangled nearly everyone they know.
A very famous painting by Johannes Vermeer has been stolen as it was in route to Chicago from Washington D.C. Three people in the Chicago area have been notified of this heist, and eventually the world is made aware of it. The purpose the thief says is to bring the truth to light. You see there are some paintings credited to Vermeer which may not have in fact been painted by him. When a old book of unexplained occurrences bring Calder and Petra together, strange coincidences seem to thrust them into the thick of the search for answers. With their deductive skills, the help of an eccentric old woman, their intuition, and a bit of good fortune they are hot on the trail of the missing painting. But, will they find it in time?
“Chasing Vermeer” is a riddle, wrapped up in a mystery, inside of an enigma. This book was totally enthralling and enjoyable. It featured smart, young, multicultural characters that are resolute in their determination to solve the mystery and find the truth. Balliett adds levels of intrigue to this big with a riddle that can be solved by hidden clues in the illustrations of Helquist, as well as coded letters written between Calder and his friend Tommy who moved to New York. This book will keep you occupied for hours. I love absolutely loved Calder’s use of pentominoes and I had to learn more about them. If you go to the books website you can actually play a pentominoe game, which is harder than it looks.
Great book from start to finish and beyond! I can’t wait till I have time to read some of his other books.