I've had a great few weeks reading with my son. Usually he picks a fantasy novel where I have to keep track of various characters names Tryvar and Elred and who have magical characteristics or swords that keep them adventuring. This time he chose a novel about kids involved in an art caper and it was a lot of fun.
The novel takes place on the south side of Chicago and follows the adventures of Petra and Calder as they try to figure out who stole a priceless painting by Vermeer and track it down. The book is filled with coincidences and odd circumstances which lead the kids into mysterious mansions and in the basements of old schools. There is code to decipher (Grayson loved that!) and pictures with clues drawn into them. We spent several evenings playing with a set of pentominoes in an effort to understand one of the props with which Calder, the boy in the story, spent a lot of time playing.
Sometimes it was hard to keep track of all the details and coincidences. At first we would leaf back and forth through the chapters and try to remember where we saw a name or what the clue was referring to, after awhile we just kept reading.
There were a few breathtaking observations about art, and what it could mean to our world if we actually started paying attention to art and gave it glory. I loved the characters and setting and would love to see Petra and Calder involved in another great caper together. This is a great gift for a young adult, a mystery lover or an art lover. You also might get a kick out of it if you grew up on the South Side of Chicago.