Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

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. 

3 comments:

Scott S. Semester said...

I can't remember how I happened onto "Chasing Vermeer" last year, but I loved it. Totally agree that this would be a great gift for a young adult, mystery lover, or art lover.

The very first mystery novel I read was "The Westing Game," and I have been hooked on mysteries ever since. On my books-to-write-before-I-die list is something targeted toward younger readers that can inspire a love of puzzles and mystery, the way both "The Westing Game" and "Chasing Vermeer" do.

BIG -- I mean, like, HUGE -- bonus points for sharing the read with your own young reader!

Esmerelda said...

Thanks Scott!

sweetcakes said...

Both of my kids loved this book! They read it in 4th grade, followed by a field trip to see the Benton Murals at IU.

I'm glad you had a a chance to read it too, Amy!!