Chasing Vermeer

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Chasing Vermeer

by Blue Balliett
Illustrator Brett Helquist

SCHOLASTIC INC | May 1, 2005 | Trade Paperback

Chasing Vermeer is rated 4.541 out of 5 by 61.
When a book of unexplainable occurences brings Petra and Calder together, strange things start to happen: Seemingly unrelated events connect; an eccentric old woman seeks their company; an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has stumped even the FBI?

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 288 pages, 7.63 × 5.27 × 0.57 in

Published: May 1, 2005

Publisher: SCHOLASTIC INC

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0439372976

ISBN - 13: 9780439372978

Appropriate for ages: 9

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Memorable Brain Boggler I'll start right away, I don't care how old I am, this book was too good. The answer isn't in the next page, you have to remember all the facts to know what they mean. Fun and puzzling games are hidden within the book that I couldn't figure out. It looks small but once you start, you'll be dragging it with you everywhere for a week because your bound to find a puzzle that you want to figure out yourself! The characters and the reality of it is a definite all the way. You'll be happy when they start talking, especially when Calder starts talking about his his little puzzle pieces. GET THE BOOK! START READING! YOU WON'T REGRET IT !
Date published: 2008-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from this book is good for all ages This book Chassing Vermer is a good mystery book for any people that like mystery.I think this a good book because it grabs the reader into the story. Then every chapteer that you see it also grabs you and it gives you an idea of what the chapter is going to be about.I LOVE THE BOOK!!!!!!
Date published: 2008-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing... so far I have read about half of this book and WOW it really is amazing. It can be confusing at times but DONT put it down, figure the mystery out as you go. This book lets people of all ages discover the world of art & Vermeer along with the problem-solving and very intelligent Calder and Petra. I would reccomend this book to mystery lovers and people who enjoy figuring things out.
Date published: 2007-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from DaVinci Code for Youngsters This book allows readers to be a detective like Calder and Petra by giving riddles such as pentominoes for them to uncover. However, after the first few notes, looking up what each number represents in letterform gets kind of annoying. I would still recommend this mystery because it encourages exploration (especially in the world of art) while alluding to some artifacts of the past. It should excite children to read which is always the primary goal.
Date published: 2006-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very good for all ages!! WOW!!! What a wonderful book for all ages 10 to 100. You learn about art and artists. The story and chemistry between Calder and Petra are excellent. Highly reccomnded to all.
Date published: 2006-07-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting... The book "Chasing Vermeer" is an interesting mystery that has many facts about a panting called "The lady writing" by "Vermeer" and it has been stolen. Petre and Calder work hard to find this lost painting and using pentomenos and clues they work their pay through a mystery. I personally didn't like this book because the clues where too easy. For example: They found a number twelve writen on the floor and Petra and Calder took it as a sign that they must go to twelveth street, at the end almost all the clues where there!" aghh..... It's still pertty good book... -Ana
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nail Biting Suspense!! This book was extremely suspenseful. "Chasing Vermeer" by Blue Balliet, tells the story of two average sixth graders who are trying to save a famous Vermeer painting that has been stolen from the Art Museum. Join Calder and Petra is a page turning adventure as they go from place to place finding evidence. You won't be able to put this book down until u read the very last page. For ages 8-13
Date published: 2006-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Mystery!!! Casing Vermeer is a very good mystery!! i really enjoyed the suspense and problem solving especially the ending; which will keep you surprised on every page!!! Definetely the best mystery i have ever read!!
Date published: 2006-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...this book has it all. Chasing Vermeer is The DaVinci Code for kids. Cleverly infused with intricate, seemingly innocent details, author Blue Balliett tells the tale of a centuries-old misconception surrounding the work of master painter Johannes Vermeer (credits include Girl With A Pearl Earring). Set in present-day Chicago, eleven-year-olds Calder and Petra notice strange connections between obscure events, and when a Vermeer painting is stolen, these connections become keys to solving the mystery of the stolen painting. Chasing Vermeer can be enjoyed by young mystery-book lovers, and any young readers who like cryptic patterns or secret messages, this book has it all. I really liked the story; I especially liked the various patterns that were directly linked with the plot. For example, the woman in the stolen portrait, A Lady Writing, wears twelve pearls; both Calder and Petra were born on the twelfth day of the twelfth month. Moreover, this number plays a crucial role in the plot (read the book to find out why!). Though some patterns become too unrealistic (or spooky), generally they fascinated me. Chasing Vermeer's philosophical content I found uniquely insightful for a junior novel. Balliet really encourages us, the readers, to think; early in the book she challenges the purpose of writing, and the definition of art; both are explored somewhat throughout the rest of the novel. Furthermore, Balliet often alludes to Charles Fort's book, Lo!, which examines paranormal phenomena (i.e.: the unexplained). There are so many occurrences in everyday life, Fort implies, that seem coincidental, but which then progress to become too closely connected, too coincidental, as if those events were planned to happen by a higher power. Many people dismiss such happenings without much thought, but Fort believes that, depending on how you look at things, your world could change completely. For Calder and Petra, this belief compels them to try and change the shape of art history. Balliet, who is passionate about this topic, shares her interests with us by weaving such coincidental events into Chasing Vermeer's plot. The art theft doesn't actually happen until well into the plot, but the children analyze many coincidental instances before then. I was almost halfway through the book when I asked myself, Why do they even care? I thought, with a hint of annoyance, that Calder and Petra were just working out their overactive imaginations, with no real purpose. Of course, after I finished the book, those thoughts vanished. It was replaced by a reinstated lesson in faith. If it weren't for the children's curiosity, the mystery would almost definitely remain a mystery. All the patterns interlace in the end; I should've had more faith in that, and in Balliett's curious characters, because I finished the novel with the satisfaction of having just read something good. As one character puts it, I've done many things in my life out of curiosity, and have regretted very few of them. So try this book, even if just out of curiosity - and have faith that it'll be a great read!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...suspense and surprise... Chasing Vermeer is one of the best books I have ever read. It is filled with suspense and surprise. Just when you think you have figured it all out, the story takes a turn and you just don't know what's going to happen next. The book has non-stop action and I am sure you won't be able to put the book down. I had to read it every chance I got! It only took me half a day to finish. Blue Balliett is an exquisite writer. She makes you feel like you are right there in the book with the characters; I could be in the same school with Petra and Calder. I would like to compliment the author on her amazing ideas for this book. I really enjoy the way she put together the hands-on puzzle work. Deciphering the pentomino codes, patterns, and odd coincidences makes you feel you are a detective yourself. I think it's great that the author decided to have kids in sixth grade solve the mystery of a lifetime! Blue Balliett makes me feel that I can do anything if I just put my mind to it! If you enjoy adventure, or art, or problem solving, or other creative activities, you are sure to enjoy this unique and outstanding book!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...so interactive... Chasing Vermeer was probably one of the best books I have ever read! It involves two kids, Petra and Calder, who become friends and start to record coincidences. One thing leads to another and eventually they find themselves in the middle of a mystery>>a stolen painting with an unusual motive behind the robbery. Petra and Calder realize that they are the only ones who can solve the mystery because of the information regarding the painting that they have gathered. The two friends start to investigate the robbery of A Lady Writing by Johannes Vermeer... I won't say the ending just in case anyone hasn't already read it. I really liked how this book was so interactive ( like in the letter Tommy wrote Calder, you have to figure out how the decoder works and then decode the letter). I also liked how Blue Balliett did her research and found out the details about Johannes Vermeer, for example the year he died, about the unsolved mysteries surrounding his art (who were the people he painted?) and so on. She also did her research concerning Charles Fort. I was very surprised to find out that Blue Balliett even got the correct year of publication of Lo! The thing that intrigued me the most about this book was the realism of it all, when you think about the possibilities of a public outbreak over the dissaperance of a valuble painting. This book was very hard to put down because of the action and twists! It left me thinking about it even after I was done reading! The effort the author put into this book wasn't at all hard to see! It is definitly one of my all-time favorites!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...very interesting and unique... This book is about two kids named Petra and Calder. Petra likes reading and is brainy. Calder on the other hand LOVES patterns and carries his pentominoes in his pocket. Together they are determined to find the Vermeer painting A Lady Writing that was stolen on its way to an art show. Strange, seemingly unrelated events start happening to Calder and Petra. Can they solve a case that even the F.B.I. can't solve? I loved Chasing Vermeer! If you like mystery, adventure or suspense books, you'll like this book. This book has interesting twists and turns in it. It's one of those books that have parts that you read over and over again because so many things happen and the story takes so many twists that rereading is important for understanding. A lot of unexpected things happen in this book and that makes it unique. The author uses coded messages that the reader must decode before reading on in the story. This really made me want to read on in the book and I had a hard time finding a place in the story where I could put the book down. Another reason I liked this book was because I could identify with the character Petra because I also love to read and I hate my glasses as much as she hates hers! We also both have hair that doesn't do what we want it to do! We are also the same age which also made me similar to her. I would recommend this book both boys and girls because it is a very interesting and unique story that will keep the reader guessing until the end.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...very original... This mysterious book was about two smart Kids who tried to discover a bunch of mysteries and coincidental happenings. Then a very important and admired painting got stolen so they tried to find it. They read in a journal, about a letter that the thief had left which mentioned three people ; two kids from their neighbourhood When they found out that lots of things involved with twelves were happening (coincidentally) for example, they both had their birthdays on the twelfth month on the twelfth day and were both turning twelve, they had a feeling that the painting had been hidden somewhere involving the number twelve. After days of searching around twelves, they finally found it! After being chased by the thief and going on more strange adventures, everything turned out ok and the painting was safe at last. Things were back to normal just in time to celebrate their birthdays! Chasing Vearmeer was a very original book. I've never read anything like it before. There is nothing I would change about the ending. I found it very suspenseful and enjoyable. While I was reading it, I thought Mrs Sharpe ( one of the three who got a letter) would have been the thief because she got black mailed. Though as I got to the end, I saw how nice she was to the kids and all and I changed my mind. This hard covered book really got me thinking of things I never thought of before. For example: I`ve sometimes wondered why coincidences happen so much. I never thought that maybe, coincidences are all related in some kind of weird way. It was really weird when I found out that their birthdays were on the exact same day as mine! This book was probably made last year, when I was also going to turn twelve on December 12th. I also noticed that their were frogs on almost every page of the book. In the book, they mentioned something about frogs having to do with the thief. When I was done reading the book, I started observing frog carvings in a lot of places that I visited in my city. It got me thinking that maybe people should observe what`s around them more. This was a great book and I now hope to read more mystery books. I still do wonder...why DO coincidences happen all the time?..Are they REALLY all connected in some weird way?
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chasing Vermeer Three people get a mysterious letter. The people are who got the letter are grown ups. The letter says that they will help find a painting. A Vermeer painting, A Lady Writing goes missing. This painting is very expensive. Two 6th grade students which are Calder and Petra, follow clues to find the painting which is hidden in a University staircase. At the end the painting is returned to the University. This story is a mystery. I think that children would be interested in learning about paintings, old places and how to solve mysteries. My mom read this book to me. Some of the story I found a bit confusing. I liked the pictures in the book because it helped me see what the author was thinking about. I would like this book to be in two books. One book would start the mystery and the second book have an exciting end. My ending for this book would that Calder and Petra would be millionaires because they found the painting and solved the case. I think this book would appeal to some teenagers that like mysteries and art. Before my mom read this book I didn't know who Vermeer was. She showed me some more of his paintings in a book and I could see that Vermeer painted many beautiful pictures. In art, I would like to try to paint a beautiful picture like Vermeer. If I could change one thing in the book I would put at least 2 or more robbers in the museum so a person can decide who is the real robber and therefore it would be more interesting. This book reminded of the TV show Murder She Wrote, because there is a woman in that show who also solves mysteries. I'm glad my mom read this book to me because now it makes me want to make my own mysteries and paint beautiful pictures like Vermeer.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...incredibly engaging... Chasing Vermeer, in my opinion, is an excellent book. On a day in October, three people received the exact same letter which stated they would be able to help solve a very old crime that wronged the name of a very talented artist, Vermeer. Though these three might never meet, they would help inexplicably. Then we met Petra and Calder, two eleven year old kids who were both unpopular in their sixth grade class. Petra finds an old book thrown out by the library and is inspired by it. This book talks about the many coincidences and happenings in life that people choose to ignore, and shares this with Calder. Calder, who has a love for pentominoes, borrows a book from the library about Vermeer and shares both with Petra. Soon enough, the famous Vermeer painting, A Lady Writing, which was about to tour in the kids' city, was stolen. Petra and Calder plunge into a world of searching for this painting, using both their knowledge and instinct. Throughout this book I felt many different emotions. For example, I felt discouraged when the painting Petra and Calder found in the storage room was not what they were looking for. When the kids were in the University building at nighttime, I was considerably tense, and very much into the book. I was extremely happy, though, when I found out that they had found the painting, but when it went missing, along with Calder, I was worried. Eventually the painting was found again along with Calder, and I was glad again. Blue Balliett has written an incredibly engaging and extremely descriptive book. This together with the wonderful pictures drawn by Brett Helquist creates an amazing novel. Balliett constantly keeps the reader alert and hanging off the hook. I think that creating that challenge in the artwork added a flavourful twist to the book. Now that I have talked about the upsides of the book, I will give my very few complaints. I believe that Balliett has put too many coincidences into the book which makes it a little bit hard to believe. Also, the kids in the book are only eleven years old, so they must be very smart and independent to be what they are portrayed as. I think that Balliett should have made them aged fifteen or sixteen. I would recommend this book to kids aged 9 to 13 who like mysteries and puzzle solving. I would also recommend it to those who like adventure books. I believe that this is a good book that many children would like because it constantly keeps you hanging on the hook, wondering what is going to happen next.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from ...beyond redemption... You could summarize Chasing Vermeer as two children who, due to their overactive imaginations and weak intellects, solve an art theft, and miss the point entirely. It is painfully obvious that this is author Blue Balliet's first book. I cringed through it from the vaguely promising beginning to the dreadful and predictable end. This book tells the story of two sixth graders, Calder and Petra, who become interested in art through their teacher, Ms. Hussey. Their interest in Johannes Vermeer is sparked after Petra has a dream about one of Vermeer's most celebrated works, A Lady Writing. They, along with the rest of the world, are horrified when A Lady Writing is stolen while traveling between two museums, and they resolve to find it. Several key problems afflict this book. First, the characters. Calder is stupid, self-important, and obsessed with pentominoes, plastic figures that fit together and form rectangles. In the hands of a better author, this concept could be vaguely interesting, but Blue Balliet mangles it beyond redemption. To often, Calder pulls a pentomino out of his pocket, says its letter name, and announces a word that comes into his head and provides a valuable clue. Petra is less repulsive, but is just as fixated with ignoring any real hints, preferring to pay attention to her dreams, and the occasional feeling she has, indicating what Vermeer's Lady is ˜thinking' and ˜feeling'. Petra and Calder's strange neighbor, Mrs. Sharpe, is inconsistent, refusing to say anything one day and spilling her life story the next. Their silly teacher, Ms. Hussey, ˜teaches' her class nothing but art. Secondly, Petra and Calder's random and unrelated events are both connected and important mania, which would better suit a cardboard book for babies than a published novel, is infuriating. Worst is the blindly ignorant state in which Calder and Petra bumble through life, disregarding both their own stupidity and the fact that their clues are nothing more than coincidences linked together in random ways, apparent to the most casual observer. There are a few additional concepts sufficient to repel anyone who has not yet been driven off, for instance, the ˜Blue Ones'. Petra and Calder, in another one of these random acts that are so abundant in this book, discover that they both like the flavor blue best, and decide to eat blue M&Ms whenever they find a ˜clue', as a part of their commitment to ˜seek the truth, wherever it lies'. This book does not deserve a second chance, and should never have been published. Readers should avoid such lame writing, and devote their time to more productive literature, such as How To Develop A Magnetic Personality. In the end, this whole book is stuffed full of abominations, with a plot that is nothing more than coincidences loosely connected, and balanced on a ridiculous cast and no humor, like a rotten apple stuck up on two toothpicks. Blue Balliet needs a more thorough grasp of a compelling plot, before she tries writing again.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...intriguing and inspiring... The story Chasing Vermeer begins one warm October Night in Chicago. This story is a mystery. A Vermeer painting is stolen and a mysterious letter is sent out to three very important people in this story. The letters are sent out asking for help to solve a crime that is very old. It is not signed so it's a mystery to find out who wrote the letter. After many adventures the painting is safely returned to the National Gallery. The main characters, Calder and Petra, who are in sixth grade, solve the mystery and find A Lady Writing (the painting). The three people who got the letters are important as well. They are: Ms. Hussey, Calder and Petra's sixth grade teacher; Mr. Watch who works at Powells Bookstore; and last but not least, Mrs. Sharpe a neighbour and a Vermeer lover. My favourite characters in the book Chasing Vermeer are Ms. Hussey and Petra. Petra is a favourite because she worries a lot and I like that in a character. I like Ms. Hussey a lot because she has different teaching skills, which makes her very unique, and I think she would stand out in a crowd in a special way. She's the kind of teacher I'd like to have. If I were the author of this book, I would change three things. The first thing would be that Mrs. Trek (the principal of Petra and Calder's school) would be an accomplice, helping the thief all along. She would help by finding a place to hide the painting and would make sure that nobody found where it was hidden. Also, instead of Mr. Watch getting a letter, Calder's dad would get a letter. I think that would make the story a bit more exciting. There is one more thing I would like to change and that is that when Calder gets pushed off the slide, he wouldn't hit his head and only pretend to be unconscious (although still in a lot of pain from the fall). There were few parts that I didn't like but one of them was that at the beginning of the book, Calder and Petra weren't friends. Another was that I was disappointed when Mrs. Sharpe, an elderly lady, hurt her leg. However, I wouldn't change these things because they tie the whole story together. For example if Mrs. Sharpe hadn't gone to the hospital she wouldn't have mentioned the fruit, vines, panel and monkey, and that puzzle-solving part of the story really grabbed me. Another part I liked was when Petra and Calder returned the painting to the National Gallery. This is a very intriguing and inspiring book. I enjoyed it very much. I encourage other young readers to read it as well.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from ...hopefully her last... Want to hear a joke? Chasing Vermeer was believable, gripping, and a great read. This predictable and laughable ˜novel' was Blue Balliet's first, and for the sake of innocent readers everywhere, hopefully her last. Far from being what was advertised as a good book, Chasing Vermeer insulted the English language in all of its big and boring pages. Upon reading this review, please do not assume that I have no interest for books. I find good qualities in most novels, but, I am sorry to say, no such qualities are in evidence in Chasing Vermeer. That said, the story initially sparked my interest, but I lost my enthusiasm bit by bit with the introduction of such revolting ideas such as ˜blue ones', dreams that help the two main characters solve the theft, and a code that the reader was forced to decipher. This code, instead of instilling a sense of secrecy into the letter, instead filled me with a sense of monotony and boredom. Briefly summarized, the two main characters, Calder and Petra, become interested in art through school from their teacher, Ms. Hussey, and their neighbour, the stereotypical ˜I may be old but I'm not admitting it' female senior, Mrs. Sharpe. Their attention is caught by an art theft of A Lady Writing, a painting by Johannes Vermeer. Through coincidence after coincidence, they discover the painting (Heaven forbid that the two main characters could solve the plot on their own merit!), and thwart the enemy. Dissection of the main characters reveals a gaping hole in the likeable qualities and a mountain of bad ones. Calder, the hero, carries around a set of pentominoes, plastic toys that miraculously guide Calder to the solution. Calder has one good friend, Tommy, who is instrumental to solving the case, because, conveniently, the thief happens to be his step-father. Petra, the heroine, is dreamy and, other than Calder, she has no friends, which comes as no great surprise. Both of the main characters are homework enthusiasts, bordering on obsession. The writing style, which might have saved this ludicrous fantasy-riddled plot, fell flat on its face, just like every other aspect of this book. Calder and Petra were portrayed not as interesting top-tier pupils, like they might have been in the hands of a better author, but as drivelling little weenies. I sympathized more with Denise, the character who the author meant to cruelly taunt Calder and Petra, than I did with the so-called heros. In conclusion, Chasing Vermeer would find itself better used as a doorstop than as reading material. If I were asked as to where Blue Balliet might improve, I would say to work out a realistic plot, invent likeable characters, to eliminate dreams as clues in the mystery, and to pray to a deity. Every author must make a first novel, Blue, but not every author needs to have it published. Chasing Vermeer just didn't take the leap from outline to a good book.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...a great one... I really loved this book. It is my favorite of the Junior Booklover list that I have read. I like a good mystery, and think this is a great one. The story is about two new friends trying to find a stolen painting. No one knows they are trying to locate the Vermeer painting called A Lady Writing . It has been stolen while it was comming to their town's museum for a visit. A lot of poeple were upset that they were not going to get to see the painting because it was not a copy, but the real painting. Calder and Petra are about my age, maybe a little younger. They have not been friends before, but become friends when the Vermeer painting is stolen, and they decide to go looking for it. They do find the painting, and along the way, become really good friends. I liked learning about the art, and trying to solve the mystery. I was worried about Calder near the end, but that is part of the excitement. There was lot's of twists and turns in the plot, and I could not tell what was going to happen next. To be sure this is a book you will want to read fast to see what happenes. I read the book in just a few days. I liked looking at the pictures on the cover of A Lady Writing and The Geographer's Box . This is a good book for any one who likes mystery or adventure books. I think it is good for kids that are 9 to 12 years old, and it is not hard to read.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...my favourite... I am doing a review on Chasing Vermeer. This is a book about a boy named Calder Pillay, who gets teased because he fidgets and he carries around Pentominoes. Pentominoes are puzzle pieces that can be put together to make a rectangle. There are 12 pieces in all. Each piece is named after a letter of the alphabet, (F,I,L,N,P,T,U.V.W.X.Y.Z) even though some don't look like the letter they are named after. You at least need to understand what Pentaminoes are a little bit to understand this book. Calder is in a class with a girl who lives down the street. Her name is Petra Andalee. Petra found a book in a used book store's trash. Its' title was Lo! It had articles in it about strange happenings like people disappearing. Calder and Petra put together some strange clues and solved a mystery. They found a famous stolen painting. It was painted by the artist Vermeer and was called A Lady Writing. Now they have to find who was Chasing Vermeer . If I had to change the ending of this book, I would do something like this: Calder and Petra find the painting but don't know who stole it. So since they want to know who stole, it they set up a trap. But they don't tell anyone, because they want everyone to look natural and don't think that the cops would act naturally enough. They make photocopy of the painting and they pretend that the copy is the real painting. Then the culprit comes to get the painting Calder destroys the fake painting. When the culprit fesses up they will show the real painting. Some people might like this book, some people might not. It really depends on what they like reading about. It's the same with every book. That;s what makes book reviews so hard. But this book is ALMOST an exception. You can like mysteries, word puzzles, picture puzzles, history novels even. (That's going a little far, it's got a bit of history in it, but not enough to make a difference.) Or you could just like reading. Like me. This book made me think about another book series that was my favourite three years ago. Its' title is Jigsaw Jones. It is also a mystery but easier to read. Chasing Vermeer is now one of my favourite books. I can't think of anything to change except maybe the ending. My favourite books right now are Eragon by Christopher Paolini, and His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. These books have characters that go on adventures to prove who they are, and that they have a special skill. Chasing Vermeer is like these books because Calder and Petra prove that they are not just boring kids who get teased all the time, and are seen as geeks. They are kids that can think and put clues together to solve a puzzle.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...combines art and mystery... Have you ever gotten an anonymous letter telling you to solve an age-old mystery? Three people in Chicago do, and this mystery forms the basis of Blue Balliett's book, Chasing Vermeer. Two unlikely heroes, Petra and Calder find themselves trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of one of Jan Vermeer's priceless works of art. As the story unfolds, a famous painting has been stolen, and Their teacher, Ms. Hussey, uses this art theft to expose her students to art, and she gets them to study Vermeer's paintings. Several supporting characters become suspects, and Petra and Calder use their intuition, knowledge of art, and Calder's pentominoes to attempt to solve the crime. Will Petra and Calder solve the mystery, or die trying? Balliett's work will keep you enthralled for hours! One of my favorite parts of the book is how Balliett gets you involved in the story with decoding the pentomino code. The main characters (Petra and Calder) are very funny and daring as they endure many exiting adventures relating to the pentominoe code. The pentomino code is also used in the illustrations throughout the book as an added mystery for the reader to solve. Fortunately, the book provides a link to the Scholastic website with the solution but try to figure it out first on your own! Another great thing about this book is that it gets the reader interested in the artist, Vermeer. Once I finished the book, I wanted to find out more about the painter, and view the actual paintings to see if I could determine which paintings were actually his. As a person who does not have a lot of knowledge about art and artists, this book inspired me to discover more about famous painters and their works. Chasing Vermeer combines art and mystery in a story that keeps the reader hooked until the surprise ending on the last pages! This book will appeal to readers who enjoy mystery, Art, or anyone who enjoys a good story! Even my mom enjoyed the story and managed to almost solve the pentomino code in the illustrations! However, there are a few tips for the reader to remember to fully enjoy (and participate in) the book: Tips: #1: Read prologue. I know that some people like to skip it but it has a couple mysteries for you to solve #2: Keep a pen and paper nearby. Trust me, you'll need it. #3: Remember the pentominoes. They have a lot to do with the book. (you can find them in the prologue) If you haven't read this book yet and considering it READ IT!!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ...unique! The book Chasing Vermeer is about two sixth graders who are on the hunt to find a stolen Vermeer painting. The story begins when three unknown characters received an anonymous letter stating that there was a great scandal and one of the world greatest paintings was stolen and they were to solve the case. Later that week the hip sixth grade teacher Ms Hussey assigned home work for her class which was about emotional letters that adults you know have received. So after school two kids went on a hunt to find the letters their names were Petra and Calder. They had found half of the anonymous letter which got them thinking... They decided to investigate this scandal, even though the letter claimed not to involve the authorities, could the kids keep this away from them? On their journey they encountered many people that stopped them and stomped them, encouraged and supported them. This was all a little part of their adventure of a lifetime. In this story I liked the part when Petra and Calder would put together all the information they found and worked as a team to get closer to finding the million dollar painting. I really disliked the codes as I felt they were completely unnecessary and the way they took coincidences extremely seriously was so over exaggerated. This book would appeal to anyone who is interested in mysteries age between 11-16. This book does not remind me of any book or movie, that's why it's unique! It was a well deserved happy ending and I wouldn't change a thing!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ...an interesting page turner... Mystery writing can be difficult. You need an interesting plot, a couple suspects, some motives and a twist of adventure. Then you have to solve the mystery before the readers' do, which can be tough, when smart kids are on the ball. Blue Balliett's first children's book follows all of that, plus it's got a mini mystery hidden in the illustrations (you can't help wondering why frogs keep popping up!), and a great pentomino code that helps you decipher messages throughout the book. As hard as it may be to overcome the success of Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew series, Chasing Vermeer comes close with a twist of real live history that mixes in with fictional characters that real kids can relate with. Petra's family problems and Calder's knack for pentominoes set these kids apart from the average run-of-the-mill character. If you find yourself itching to see a real picture of Vermeer's A Lady Writing, just take off the cover flap and a reproduced painting appears on the front. The intertwined mysteries of Johannes Vermeer and the heartbreaking crime described in the story compliment each other, and that is what makes the book such an interesting page turner. Although the mystery did fit together like a pentomino puzzle, it was hard to believe all the coincidences happening so rapidly. Such as the repeated use of the number twelve and how the pentomino set always pointed the way for Calder and Petra. Never the less, the ending was surprising and the book was nothing like anything I had ever read before. I would certainly recommend this book to any boy or girl in their pre-teens. Teens might find the language a little elementary, but as a great art history learning tool. There is something in Chasing Vermeer for everyone, whether it is message decoding, art history, illustration hunting, or the very mystery of the book itself.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very... clever story Chasing Vermeer is an very interesting book. It's not like any book I've ever read. There's something about it that makes it stand out from all the other books. Like when you go to the library and you just look through different books, there's something catchy about it. This is the first book I've ever read by Blue Balliett. Sometimes, I felt lost while reading the story, but when you look at it differently, you see a message that makes it easier to understand the story. I especially enjoyed deciphering the coded message. Out of all the books I've read, I have never seen that before. I like the fact that the author chose to base her story on a real artist and on a real painting. I'm not really an art person, but this made me change my mind. I think the fact of seeing a pentominoes helps Calder is cool because I do that with objects. Oh yeah! That reminds me, the part where Calder and Petra write down all the events and facts they think are odd about Charles Fort and Vermeer. In most books I've read, it's easy to guess the next part of the story, but in this book, it's not as simple. I read the resume in the back of the book and told myself: let's give this book a chance because, I don't usually judge a book by it's cover. But when I started reading it, I couldn't stop until I had finished reading the whole book. It's funny that Calder pulls out a pentominoes at the right time. Like on page 106, he get's T for Trouble. It's funny how Petra and Calder always seem to use the word coincidence at the right place at the right time. It's funny how the people react to the letters sent by the thief. How they all seem to realize: Oh! Maybe we should be this or maybe we shouldn't be doing that. It's weird how the thief always seems to know what the people are doing and what's going on. At least, that's what I thought at the beginning, before I read the rest of the book. I especially liked that they called blue M&Ms blue ones . It's funny when, in the book, near the end, they do a little flashback . It's the part where Petra finds Calder in the tree house with a major concussion. I really see myself playing Petra's part because I am a bit like her. Just not as wild. I really liked the illustrations. I like them because like the author said at the beginning, there was a picture/object in the illustrations. The illustrations are very detailed. The image corresponds with what the author is saying. The illustrations are very neatly done. My compliments to the illustrator: Brett Helquist. The only thing I didn't like about the book were the chapter titles. The chapter title had no common reference for the contents. All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. Very... clever story. My complements to the author, Blue Balliett. The end!!!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...I absolutely loved it. This book was confusing and challenging and that's why I absolutely loved it. I love challenging reads and this one really made you think if you wanted to try to figure out the story. And trying to find the code in the pictures was tough as well, as I couldn't even find most of the pieces. This book was really different from what I normally read and I would highly recommend it if you want a change of pace from your regular magic and adventure books. I don't know how Chapters could keep a book this good in stock, it's incredible!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...simply breathtaking! The book Chasing Vermeer was simply breathtaking! I do not think I have ever read a book that kept me that interested. Blue Balliett can put his words together and just make a story wonderful and interesting. Chasing Vermeer is just so full of information to lighten a children's mind. Brett Helquist also has a wonderful touch of what the book needed. The book has no limits, only fun for children. When I read this book I said it has three things that I admire. 1. Base 2. Charactor Changes 3. A complete story line This book can really give a child tips to how to solve a mystery. Even helping them find their school books in the Morning. The one question I have for Blue Balliett is; Are you proud of your work? I think that you should be. It is wonderful and I am going to continue reading for as long as I live my life.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...captivating and intriguing... Strange letters, disappeared painting, pentominoe pieces, hidden messages, the number twelve: are they connected? The reader of Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett searches for the answer as Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay find themselves caught up in a strange theft. Powell's bookshop holds many misteries and memories locked away in its books. Calder got a clear sense of it when he bumped into Petra while she was spying on Ms. Hussey, their teacher, who was holding a mysterious book which might have contained clues they were looking for. Through this incident, as well as through exploring paintings and finally solving the mystery, Petra and Calder got better acquainted and became friends. There are Petras and Calders in every school. Some readers will identify themselves with them, while others will recognize them as classmates. These real protagonists make the book more readable and the story more believable. Could anything be changed about the book to make it better? Even if so, it would not be the same captivating and intriguing novel that it is. The reader of Chasing Vermeer will find himself drawn to various levels of mystery. The disappeared paiting is the obvious one; however, clues appear in the illustrations as well and, in order to follow the story, the actively involved reader must decifer coded letters. The story of Chasing Vermeer links very well with Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring, another novel that explores the artwork of the Flemish painter, not very well known to many young readers. Although the subjects of the paintings in both books are different, they are connected in many ways, not just by their pearl earrings, and it is up to the reader to find out how. Chasing Vermeer is a unique book that will be enjoyed by both girls and boys of the young and old. The story will capture the attention and engage the minds of all artists, mystery seekers and book lovers.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...connections and coincidences... Coincidences, mysteries and secrets surround the work of one of the greatest artists of all time. Hidden places, secret codes and a moonlit chase help solve the mystery. While reading Chasing Vermeer kids are inspired to use all their creativity and problem-solving skills to solve a mystery surrounding the mysterious painter Johannes Vermeer. The main characters, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee are a bit odd. Their curiosity, unique hobbies, strange families and creative teacher at the University of Chicago Lab School help them on their quest. When three mysterious letters show up in their neighborhood and seem linked to the theft of a famous Vermeer painting, a chain of coincidences bring Calder and Petra together to solve the crime. The author, Blue Balliett seems to like playing with coincidences, both far-fetched and plausible. The themes of coincidence and mystery run cleverly through the novel. The illustrations are as intriguing as the story itself. The illustrator Brett Helquist (best known for his work in A Series of Unfortunate Events) provides a full page illustration for each chapter. Look carefully, some of the drawings reveal a secret that creative readers can uncover. With its emphasis on puzzle solving, its focus on connections and coincidences and its art related mystery make Chasing Vermeer a excelent book that deserves a spot on anyone's bookshelf.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ...great mystery; not a lot of action... The name of this book is Chasing Vermeer. The author is Blue Balliett. The story is about two children who were trying to solve a theft. In the end they located the painting and the person who stole it. Unlike the other books, this book is not easy for readers to solve the mystery by themselves and with the twist and turns throughout the book; it keeps the readers from putting the book down. The characters come from different cultures that made the book different then other books. However, I found that all the action was at the end that made the book a little long if you wait for the action to take place. The jumps between the scenes are too often that somtimes make the readers confused. If I were to change somthing about the book it would be cutting down the jumps. The ending give us the biggest surprise because that where you find out who really stole the painting. Besides the surprise, the ending gives us all the action in the book. This book reminds me of the Nancy Drew series. The similarities are: they are both mysteries and their plots are very interesting. The differences are: the Nancy Drew series is based on one person who is older than the children in Chasing Vermeer and Nancy usually goes through more action than the children. Chasing Vermeer is easy to read for children ages between eight and twelve because it has easy wording. Even though I would not call this book the greatest mystery book on earth, it is one of the better ones. The plot of this book is interesting, but it doesn't have a lot of action throughout the book execpt at the end, which makes it feel as if it is droning on. This book is great for someone who likes mysteries, but not a lot of action.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...a great story... Chasing Vermeer is a novel of mystery, but true friendship is also a big part of the book. A pentomino code and frogs also tie in with the plot. As soon as I started reading Chasing Vermeer, a rush of excitement filled my body as if to say, This is going to be an awesome book! And it was. Chasing Vermeer is a great story. At times, I felt as if I was right there, watching Petra and Calder seek to solve the art crime. The description in the novel was excellent; I love reading things like A plump tangerine moon had just risen over Lake Michigan Just reading things like that make the whole novel exciting. The plot was a really good one. The box that Calder's Grandma Ranjana had given him with a picture of A Lady Writing on the top tied in with Petra's Halloween costume. And Lo! by Charles Fort basically tied in with the whole story. Another thing that I liked about Chasing Vermeer is that the characters were completely believable. I totally believed that Calder could be a boy who could find a pattern in basically everything ”my brother is like that. Same with Petra: she likes to read (like me!), and her paragraph that she wrote on Lo! was great. I also liked the fact that everything tied in with another thing. Like Frog, the boy who disappeared. And everything had twelve, whether it be letters, or just anything else in the story. Like the main characters' names: twelve names, twelve letters in each. This book would most likely appeal to people who love mystery, solving codes or anything of that nature. Art also ties in, but don't think that I'm saying it's a totally artsy book. It is, but not in a huge way. Another thing that I liked about Chasing Vermeer was that it never got boring. Some books are like that; at times they can get really dull and you feel like just throwing the book down and starting another. With Chasing Vermeer, I never felt that once throughout the 254-page book. It was very exciting. Chasing Vermeer also taught me some things. Number one, I never knew that Vermeer was a real artist. Sure, I knew about Picasso and all the other big artists, but I never gave one thought to any other ones. This novel was all about Vermeer, and his painting, A Lady Writing . Chasing Vermeer is a wonderful novel, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I have read a lot of great books, and I'd say that this book is at least in the top ten. I usually judge books on their excitement level, etc. Chasing Vermeer aced practically every topic that I rated it on. It is a very good novel, and I know that I will reread it many, many times.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...brilliant... This book was brilliant. Blue Balliet really did a good job on her first book. Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee are two weird, but smart sixth graders. What started out as a chain of strange coincidences and occurrences turned into a mysterious art theft. Calder and Petra both notice that things aren't normal. Trying to make sense of it all, they stumble upon more and more questions. Who is Mrs. Sharpe? What happened to Ms. Hussey? Why was A Lady Writing stolen, and by who? Who got the three letters? Slowly the pieces of the puzzle connect and they realize the painting is in their neighbourhood. By working together and using the clues they solve the mystery, which in the end, didn't seem to mysterious. The thief didn't want to spread the language of art, he just wanted cash. I really enjoyed this book. It made me think. It got me interested in the Vermeer paintings. In the beginning, the story was hard for me to follow, and even a bit boring. Some of the clues didn't make sense to me and kept me wondering. The letters between Calder and Tommy were annoying, because I hade to decode the whole thing. The last half of the book was more interesting, and I couldn't put the book down. Petra's father stealing the painting could have been a good ending for the book, because he seemed strained and nervous throughout the story. But the ending was good, very unpredictable. I really related to the character Petra, because I love reading and writing, so therefore she was my favourite character. I also liked Mrs. Sharpe, who lived up to her name. The pictures were fun, because there were clues inside them, like most pictures had frogs in them. People who enjoy mystery would certainly enjoy this book. Overall this was an excellent book. I congratulate the author.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...twists and turns... On a cool November morning in Chicago the unthinkable has happened. One of Vermeer's paintings has been stolen. Now 12 year olds Petra and Calder are going to have to use their skills in order to save A Lady Writing . I liked this book because it always had twists and turns in it to keep you wanting to read. Also, I liked it because it told you some cool things about Vermeer, showed how close observation can really pay off and that if you use your smarts in the right place you never know what will happen. Sometimes I felt like I was Petra because she lives with lots of younger siblings. I recommed this book for anyone who likes mysteries and adventures. I think this book was so great it could even be a movie.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...greatest book of all... With Blue Balliett's writing and Brett Helquist's drawings comes the greatest book of all, called ˜Chasing Vermeer . After a letter is sent, Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay are joined as a team to solve a crime that is centuries old. Odd things happen later on, when a woman seeks their company and a Vermeer painting strangely disappears. As always, in the end of the amazing novel, the crime was solved leaving Petra and Calder standing proud. As if things weren't good enough, Brett Helquist was very clever to hide secret messages in the chapter illustrations. Finding hidden messages yourself is a great idea that will increase your imagination in Petra and Calder's shoes during the crime situation. A character that I can fully relate to is Petra. She loves to encounter upon a great mystery and so do I! We both try to get to the bottom of things that we aren't sure of, in hopes that we could clear it up in the end. ˜Chasing Vermeer is a combination of both mystery and adventure, and this will definitely 100% appeal to everyone. If you haven't read this awesome novel, here's your chance!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...an amazing book... Chasing Vermeer is an excellent book about two kids who unite to find a stolen Vermeer painting. Full of mystery and intrigue, Chasing Vermeer will keep you wondering right up to the end. It also gets those little grey cells working with a secret message hidden in the illustrations. One reason why I really enjoyed this book is that I related a lot to Petra. She has a big family, she doesn't have a lot of friends, and she is thought of as weird by most people. I also liked how Petra and Calder used clues and psychic abilities to find the missing Vermeer. I think this book will appeal to those who like a good mystery and people who like to use their brains once in a while. Chasing Vermeer is an amazing book and I can't wait for what Blue Balliet writes next!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...a fascinating mystery... Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett, is a fascinating mystery about two twelve-year-old children, Calder Pillay and Petra Anderlee. Petra and Calder are very different from other children their age. First of all, they both like to think outside the box and do not believe in coincidences. Also, Calder has a set of pentominoes (mathematical pieces) that speak to him . Both kids are quiet and enjoy figuring out mysterious events. They both love Charles Fort, an author of a book called Lo! and Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) an unknown painter. Just as Petra and Calder decide to begin researching on Vermeer's painting A Lady Writing , as Petra saw the lady in her dream though she never noticed the painting. The two children think that there might have been a connection between Charles Fort and Johannes Vermeer. A few days later, A Lady Writing is stolen and all that is left behind is a note. The robber explains that not all the paintings done by Vermeer are authentic. He says when the 26 out of 35 real paintings of Vermeer are found, he will return A Lady Writing . No one can prove this statement as so little is known about him. He also thanks 3 people who received a note from him and helped him with the theft. Soon, everyone thinks that they have a right to determine which Vermeer is authentic and which is not. A few days later, the thief leaves another note saying is the public can not determine which Vermeer is which at the end of three months, he will burn A Lady Writing . Will Calder, Petra, or the public find A Lady Writing before its too late? Read Chasing Vermeer to find out. I think that Blue Balliett wrote a magnificent mystery that is like no other. I found it exciting the whole way through. It was like no other mystery that I have read as it lets you figure out the thief of A Lady Writing at the same time the characters do. Also, it did not leave obvious clues behind that lets you figure out the robber long before the characters do so. Balliett included many questions at the beginning and let you ponder about them throughout the novel. At the end he gives you most of the answers to the questions that he asked. The characters in Chasing Vermeer were quite realistic. They would do what a kid would do in real life. They were not shallow and you could easily relate to them. I thought that Chasing Vermeer was great and recommend it to anyone who loves art, reading, and mysteries. Good pick Heather!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...four out of five stars! Chasing Vermeer is about two kids named Petra and Calder, who are determined to find the missing Vermeer painting. When the thief threatens to destroy the painting, things really heat up. Will Petra and Calder solve the case before time runs out? You'll have to read the book to find out... Oh my gosh! This book just flew by! I loved Chasing Vermeer ! I gave it four out of five stars! I really like how Blue Balliett (nice name), started the book with three mysterious people getting the same letter, and you're trying to figure out who they could be, but then when you go read the second chapter, she jumps to a sixth grade class, leaving you hanging. There was one part of the book that I did not understand. I didn't understand the part when Petra and Calder were in the art gallery with their class, and then they start to explore on their own. When Calder is exploring, he finds a letter that has a wax seal, that had been opened. What was that about? Anyways, I thought the part where Denise passes a note to Petra, that said, Calder and Petra lost in the art, First a kiss and then a fart! , was really funny! Even though I thought it was funny, I still can't get over how mean Denise is to Calder and Petra! When it said in the book, monkey, vines...panel, flute, finds...FINDS! , I got so excited, because Mrs. Sharpe said the exact same thing, and Petra and Calder were in a building with the exact same description! And when she said finds , I knew they would find the painting there. In the end, the thief is somebody you'd never expect. This book will keep you guessing until the very end. I would definitely recommend Chasing Vermeer to anyone who loves a good mystery.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...great book... Chasing Vermeer is exactly like The Da Vinci Code but as the reviews say a children's version of it. Chasing Vermeer is about a boy and a girl who start noticing these coindences, but then find out they were basicly solving a robbery before it even happend. When Calder and Petra discoverd they have stumbled into a crime investagation they try to find the missing painting themselves. But then that's when things go wrong. they find the painting and reveal the robber. they save the day and the painting is returned to find out who robbed the painting you'll have to read this great book on your own. By M.A.C.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...mystery and suspense... CHASING VERMEER, by Blue Balliett, is a mystery. An invaluable Vermeer painting dissapears, and three people: Mrs. Louise Sharpe, an old widow; Ms. Isabel Hussey, a sixth-grade teacher; and Mr. Watch, the manager at Powell's Bookstore, all recieve letters regarding the stolen painting and asking for their help. Now Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay, both sixth-graders in Ms. Hussey's class, have to solve the mystery and find out who the thief is. I liked this story because of its mystery and suspense, and most things in this story had to do with number 12 and pentominoes. If I could make an ending for this story, it would be when Calder and Petra find the thief, Xavier Glints: the so called Glitter Man, hiding the painting in Petra's backyard and Calder gets news from his best friend, Tommy, that his mother is having a baby and the police find Tommy's father who had gone missing for a few days. While I was reading this book, I felt a little scared because it was kind of scary, especially when Petra and Calder went to the Delta Dell building at dusk to find the painting. If I could change one thing about the book, then I'd make Zelda, Tommy's mom, not to marry Old Fred because he was the thief in disguise.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...a great twisting mystery... On a warm October night in Chicago , the words that started a great twisting mystery. This story was an enormous pentomino puzzle, just like the author said, and when I say enormous, I mean enormous, this novel had so many things that fit together into a giant puzzle. I loved how mysterious this book was, the frog, and Mrs. Sharpe's husband studying Vermeer. This novel would've had to of had an amazingly detailed outline! But the number one thing that I thought was astonishing was how all the 12 characters names had 12 letters in them, I think that's insane! I wonder if Vermeer would've liked this book, I wonder if he liked mysteries, but I guess he would considering most of his life is a mystery. There could be no substitute for the ending for this book or else the puzzle couldn't be finished. I don't think any of today's super writers could make an ending for this story except Blue Balliett. Not even one thing in this book could be changed without changing a whole bunch of other things; unless they ate red ones instead of blue ones. Sherlock Holmes reminded me about this story because of its mysterious back round. But I bet Sherlock couldn't have solved Vermeer's mystery though! This book was a great mystery, even better then my mystery story I wrote for a story contest (no duh). But my story was only 2 and a half pages. Chasing Vermeer: I give 4.5 stars and compared to my mystery story 5 stars.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...thought provoking adventure... Is Clue Junior just too effortless sleuthing for you? Then perhaps you may want to consider moving up a notch with Blue Balliett's, Chasing Vermeer. Get ready to explore interesting subplots of art history, pentominoe code, descriptive memory joggers and hidden geometric shapes in this thought provoking adventure. The great thing about this book is that you don't have to be a super reader, the vocabulary is simple enough, but you would benefit from having an open imagination. For this reason, it would be a great cross curriculum read for teachers who like to read to their class. The class could figure out the codes, construct a rendition of Vermeer for art, share their thoughts, hey even do the math! I solved bits and pieces of the mystery and I bet you can too. However, be careful...Balliett's really likes to use extremes to throw you off the trail by hiding little clues that were important towards solving the mysterious disappearance of a Vermeer painting while at the same time pointing fingers at clues that were merely coincidental. This really got me thinking about coincidences and how many actually happen in day-to-day life. For example, a week after finishing the book I actually came across a bag of geometric shapes and a set of pentominoes were in it. Now how coincidental is that?
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ... Like It or Hate It ... Chasing Vermeer is one of those books you can read and not feel affected by. The storyline had the makings of a good mystery novel, but a good book has characters that the reader can relate to. In this case, we were handed a pair of super-intelligent 12 year olds. Their intelligence and their innate ability to figure out a complex mystery that even trained specialists couldn't solve seems more like the work of a fantasy novel than a mystery. Perhaps the novel was aimed at much younger readers, because I could not get into the novel at all. The characters just didn't suit the type of story Ms. Balliett seemed to be aiming for. Chasing Vermeer is a Like It or Hate It type of book, in my opinion.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...intriguing and mysterious... Dear Friend I would like your help in identifying a crime that is centuries old . That one sentence was so intriguing and mysterious that I had to keep reading it. Sure I've read mystery stories before but never one that involved a famous painting and painter. When I started reading it I couldn't stop! Petra and Calder looked at things from everyday life in a whole new way. They looked at things closely and carefully, like a puzzle. They were so brave to have taken on a challenge this big that even the FBI couldn't solve. Only Petra and Calder were unique enough and more strong-willed than anybody to have accomplished something like that. My favourite part of the book was when they were going to Delia Dell to find The Lady . I also liked how the number twelve was connected with everything and how just by coincidence everything seemed to fit into place. However, I did not like it when I heard that Ms Hussey, their 6th grade teacher, was one of the people who got the mysterious letter. I knew Ms Hussey was scared and I didn't want anything to happen to her, but it did. She was so scared that she called the police and ended up with a broken arm. When I was reading this book I couldn't help but think that I was a character in the book. I think if I was writing this book it would have been the parents of either Calder or Petra, who would have received the two letters. The illustrations were so alluring and intriguing with the pentominoes hidden in them and the living creature that appeared every so often. My favourite characters are both Petra and Calder. I liked Petra because I saw that she looked at things from a different point of view. She looked carefully at hidden pieces of information, like at Delia Dell she noticed the engraved suitcase. Now Calder, was really a person who loved to do puzzles. He was always the one who got every piece of the puzzle correct. He saw that in Delia Dell on the wall there was a triangle in a rectangle. That was the same clue that Petra had uncovered the other night, that led to the hidden closet. Blue Balliett really did a good job. It was just so mysterious, absolutely astonishing, and the same thing for Brett Helquist's illustrations. They were just so imaginative. I recommend this book to everyone who likes a good mystery, and I hope Blue Balliett writes another book because I can't find a better book to read than his. I thought his ending was just great and I wouldn't change it one bit. It's good that they didn't tell everything because I think that friends are supposed to keep some adventures to themselves. This book didn't remind me of anything. I think it's important to write about something that you think no one has done before -something new.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ...sometimes slow... IT TOOK ME LITTLE WHILE TO ENJOY THE BOOK, BECAUSE SOME OF THE WORDS USED IN THE BOOK I DID NOT UNDERSTAND, SO I HAD TO READ IT OVER TWICE AND TO MY MOM SO THAT SHE COULD HELP ME ALONG. I FOUND THE STORY LINE SOMTIMES SLOW AND SHORT I ALL SO HAD TO USE MY IMAGINATION IN A LOT OF PLACES. SOME TIMES I DIDN'T, KNOW IT THE WRITER JUST WANTED ME TO FALLOW OR TO JUST READ ALONG. I LIKE THE PART WHEN THE PLOT WAS SET FOR THE TRAP, THATS LIKE IN A MOVIE.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...couldn't put it down! Chasing Vermeer is a mysterious novel of coincidence, strange happenings and the unexplained. Racing against the clock, two friends try to solve what could be the greatest art theft in history. I absolutely loved this book and couldn't put it down! I personally think Blue Balliett did an exceptional job of writing this story. Somehow she made everything come together at the very end while I was still hopelessly trying to make sense of all the pieces. Even the supposedly insignificant details played an important part in solving the mystery. I found the mystery seemed even more real when trying to find the hidden message concealed in the illustrations and while decoding letters sent between Calder and Tommy. I very much enjoyed the fact that while reading this book I learned some very interesting facts about Johannes Vermeer, his life and works (he is a real artist!). This also played a big part in pulling me into the story. If you even remotely like mysteries, art or puzzles (and even if you don't!) I would definitely say read Chasing Vermeer!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...delightfully unique... Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee, though neighbours and classmates had never bonded “ until a whirlwind of mysterious coincidences bring them together to unlock the mystery of a missing Vermeer painting. I have grown up on mysteries by E.L. Konigsburg, Enid Blyton, and Carolyn Keene, to name a few. Chasing Vermeer is delightfully unique. For one, readers are put to work by being asked questions, looking to find hidden messages in illustrations, decipher letters, and work alongside the main characters to piece together clues. The protagonists are very common kids of this era that any current young reader can relate to. They deal with mundane problems: widowed socks in laundry baskets, taunting classroom bullies, embarrassing siblings, and frantic before school searches for misplaced hairbrushes and sneakers. When these two club sandwiches of cultures (like myself) meet, they solve a mystery that has perplexed even the FBI. Extraordinary feat for two very ordinary kids, the author makes this very believable. Ultimately, even though she wraps up the central mystery she cleverly leaves one mystery unresolved “ the mystery of coincidence. This book begins, like a set of pentomimoes, with separate pieces. Filled with puzzles, patterns, and pentomimoes, the novel is one big jigsaw puzzle. Evidence (like puzzle pieces) must be linked together to enable readers to see the whole picture . The refreshing part is that the readers have the same number of puzzle pieces that the central characters do. The author warns us not to be fooled by ideas that seem to fit or not fit and Mrs. Sharpe tells Petra and Calder, that Looking and seeing are two very different things. For me, the coded letters interrupted the flow, and diverted my attention from the plot; the novel would not suffer without them. This novel reminded me of two of my favorite books: E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (the art history component), and The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel) by Ellen Raskin (filled with puzzles and codes). I recommend this novel to puzzle and mystery lovers. It has a wide range of appeal: kids and adults (my mum loved it!!) of all ages. It could fascinate art history students. Teachers could learn a few things from Ms Hussey's teaching style! Chasing Vermeer is a true work of art. A masterpiece. Ms Hussey quotes Picasso to the class: art is a lie, but a lie that tells the truth . As a work of art, the novel points us to an important truth about life: some questions in life will always remain unanswered. In fact, Chasing Vermeer can be seen as a Vermeer painting. Both make ordinary objects seem important, a pitcher of milk, an earring, a quill pen or two very ordinary sixth graders. It raises unanswered questions. Why do some words sound more elegant than others? Was there really a rainfall of frogs? And most importantly who was Johannes Vermeer? Like a Vermeer painting, it leaves behind more questions than answers.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...fantastic... 'Chasing Vermeer' is an exciting mystery starring two 6th grade kids, Calder and Petra, who one day discover that a painting by the artist Vermeer is stolen. Calder, who can always be found with a set of pentominoes in his pocket, and Petra, who always tries to put things together like a puzzle, work together to find the whereabouts of the stolen painting. The trouble starts when people the duo know closely start acting strange. Not only is the book fantastic, there is also a code hidden in Brett Helquists fabulous illustrations. A book for anyone who is looking for something fun to do this summer.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...very intense... I havn't read the whole book, but so far the book is AWESOME. It is very intense and it is like a mystery book and your trying to figure out what all the characters have in common. I like the part when Petra sees the lady when she is asleep and when she reads parts of Lo , to the reader. The book is REALLY cool. I like the pentominoes also. Those are cool. I have observed that they are from the game Blokus . I was wondering what month it was at the time of the beginning of the story and then read that it was a cold October night in Chicago . I liked that sentence (also the first sentence) because it answered both of my question in 5 words. This is a great book and I hope you read it sometime and I hope you enjoy it.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...an amazing book... I chose to review the book Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett. The story starts so that you have no idea about what will happen in the book. Then Petra and Calder are introduced. The whole story changes shape after that. Petra and Calder become friends. Petra picks up the book Lo! at Powell's. Lo! changes Petra's and Calder's views and shows them the world is full of consequences and related actions. Tommy, Calder's friend and the thief's stepson, sends him notes throughout the story. Later, the priceless painting A Lady Writing is stolen while being transported and the whole world is in an uproar. Petra and Calder pair-up and agree on helping to find the painting. After eating the blue ones they begin their search. Their search leads them everywhere, examining anything as a possible clue. They search the University and the beginning of the end of their search starts at Delia Dell Hall. Calder then stands on the twelfth stair and asks Petra to stand directly below him. Both Petra and Calder open a secret compartment. There they find the missing painting. Making a break for it and sounding alarms, they run, Petra holding the painting, Calder a Slippery When Wet sign. As soon as the alarm sounds, a thief comes after them, injuring Calder and giving him a concussion. Hiding the painting after stealing it back, the thief hides A Lady Writing in a tree house. Calder trails him. When he gets there, the thief has fallen off the branch onto the train tracks and died. There, Calder passes out until Petra finds him. They find out that the thief was really Tommy's father and there the story ends. Petra and Calder had a very interesting mystery on their hands. It was written so that nothing was obvious to the reader until the end. It was an amazing book full of consequences that are all connected. Chasing Vermeer is an extremely hard puzzle with pieces that simply just don't fit until the end. It kept me wanting to find out more until there was no more. Blue Balliett's book was written in a very different style than you see in most books. Including pictures, with frogs and pentominos, this book was written and illustrated with lots of care. Chasing Vermeer is a book that drew in the reader and wouldn't let go. I loved everything about this book. It was a bit confusing at first but it got better. The clues were fair though a bit tricky to figure out. This book would most likely appeal to anyone who likes mystery, adventure or books period. Chasing Vermeer is a nice all-around book to be enjoyed by kids and adults of most ages. The ending was very exciting and it was as close to perfect as a book could b e. It was a very different book and I have not read or heard about anything like it.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...weaves a tale... One October day, 3 people in Chicago discovered a mysterious letter. The letter said that there is a crime over 300 years old. It said that their help is required to solve this crime. The letter continued that they will be amply rewarded for any risks they take but if they show this letter to the authorities,their life will be in danger. The letter was unsigned. This book weaves a tale of how two sixth grade school mates, Petra and Calder, their teacher Miss Hussey, a very old lady Mrs Sharpe and Tommy (a friend) exchange ideas on where a stolen priceless Vermeer painting called, A Lady Writing, could be hidden. Petra and Calder use pentominoes, a book called Lo , and various challenges for clues to the painting's whereabouts. Petra and Calder faced additional pressure by letters written threatening to burn the painting by a certain date if justice did not previal. In the end, Petra and Calder's brains and compaionship lead to a hidden space in at Delia Dell Hall, at the University. After a altercation and some suspense the painting was returned to the authorties. I liked how the supsense kept building up. I felt I knew Petra and Calder very well by the end of the story. The author explained a lot about each, Petra and Calder, and other main people. This book taught me things that I never knew like how to use pentominoes. It exposed me to a great artist, Vermeer, that I had never even known existed. After reading this book, I found myself looking at art more closely and thinking about some of the things that the author discussed in her book. Calder and Petra reminded me of myself in that they, like me, knew what the right thing to do was--find and return the painting. I think that I am inventive like the two were. I especially like how they had a sign wrapped as a decoy when they were rescuing this painting. As a result of reading this book, my mom brought home The World of Vermeer. I found it very interesting looking at some of his masterpieces and the way he signed his name. My mom also got the book the Girl With the Pearl Earring which is based on Vermeer's work. We had some good discussions on how life must have been back then. I have a metal detector. I always dream of finding a great treasure. In a way, this book was about discovering something using your brains. I think this book will appeal to anyone who likes books with supsense and mystery. I found myself reading the last half of the book quicker because I wanted to find out who stole the painting and how the various characters fit in the the theft. If I could change one thing it would be that Tommy was a part of Petra and Calder's quest for the stolen painting. I also wish that Tommy's mom didn't marry the thief. I wanted a happier life for Tommy. I'm really glad I read this book. It's not the kind of book I usually read. I like books on fishing and magic. This book would be one I would recommend to my friends.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...unlike any other... Wow. This was a great book. It's about two kids named Petra and Calder who get caught up in a mystery about a stolen painting. Their curiousness brings them together to become friends as they work together to figure out this mystery. I congratulate Blue Balliett on writing such an excellent book. It really made you think hard. And I loved the added bonus of the illustration challenge. I got part of the answer, but I did have to look at the answer a little to get the whole thing. That part made you think even harder. This book was just so mysterious, I couldn't put it down. I just had to no what was going to happen. This book is unlike any other book I have ever read. I have never read a book that changed directions so many times, that had a secret message hiding in the illustrations, and that kept you thinking right to the very end. I like to compare this book to a roller coaster. You think you know where it's headed, and then suddenly, it totally changes direction. I loved all the twists and turns this book had. This book also remind me a little of the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Not only because the illustrator is the same, but because the kids reminded me of each other. They're always putting clues and events together to find out things that they need to know. They're all very smart. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery, suspense, a book that makes you think right to the very end, and maybe even after the end, and maybe a challenge or two along the way. I would like to say one more thing before finishing my review about this great book. THE LADY LIVES!!!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book! Three letters were sent out to three people aksing for help to solve one of the oldest crimes ever and some how Petra and Calder get caught in the middle of it. Petra and Calder search for patterns as they try to find one of the most valuable paintings on the planet; A Lady Writing when it is stolen from an art exhibition in Chicago. Things really start to get weird when A lady Writing starts talking to Petra in her dreams, Calders pentominoes start telling the future, a kid named frog disappears and Mrs Hussy their sixth grade teacher starts looking more and more run down everyday. Calder and Petra find out wher the painting is hidden and when they remove it the theif sees them and starts chasing them. In the end the painting is found and reutrned to it's rightful spot in the National Art Gallery. I loved this book I loved the way Cahrles Fort thought and how he was such a fearless thinker. I would reaccamend this book to everyone who likes mystery and suspense and even if you don't you should still read this book.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...isn't just a mystery... I loved Chasing Vermeer for many reasons. One reason is that it has a wide variety of my interests all in one. Take the main theme of the book, art. Art is one of my favourite classes in school. Recently, we had been studying art throughout the ages. we did different types of art and talked about different atrists. Although we did not study Vermeer, I think that this book was as as good as any art lesson. I also love reading and mystery, those were also key parts in this novel. Another reason why I liked this book was that it involved pentominoes. We have a set here and I'd only been able to get them once or twice. Then, after I read this book, I saw things in a different way. If I looked at the different angles, things fit together, piece by piece. One thing that I din't like about the book was how it ended. I think that Ms. Balliett sort of rushed the ending. I seemed like when she tried to sum it up, every thing happened to quickly. It didn't seem to follow the pace of the rest of the book. I really loved this book because it isn't just a mystery, or because it relates to me( Coincidence?) or even becuase of my love for art. I loved it because I found that it had deeper meaning. When Petra and Calder investigated the stolen picture, they over came fear, pure fear to do what they knew was right for their small town. Both Calder and Petra were afraid of what would happen next, or even if it was safe to roam the streets alone at times. They knew what they had to do, and they did it, fear aside. So that is why I give Blue Balliett's book Chasing Vermeer two thumbs up. It was a great novel and I would DEFINETLY recommend it.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...8.5 out of 10... Chasing Vermeer was a great book. At first it is confusing but it all fits together in the end. Something unexpected always happens and I was always anxious to see what happens next. The book has a lot of mystery and action. The pentominoes made it more interesting because the were usually right. Everyone did unexpected things and the book makes you think that one thing is going to happen, and then something totally different happens. That's another thing that makes it good. There is always another mystery to solve because one mystery leads to another. It makes me feel exited, worried, and confused at the same time. Calder and Petra are very smart and make a great team. They knew where to look because the pentominoes helped them. I give this book an 8.5 out of 10 because it is very good.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...a definite 5-star... Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett is such an amazing book. It's about how three very different people put the pieces of the puzzle together and solving one of the worlds' most ancient and difficult mystery that even fooled the FBI. Every page is filled with more mystery and suspense. The illustrations of this book even contain a secret message. The main characters Calder and Petra seems intensely real and full of life. Unlike most books where you just see the characters going through their daily lives, you can actually feel like you are part of the book solving the mystery with the characters. Overall it's a great book and a definite 5-star rating.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...very fun... This book was very fun to read. It's a great book for all ages. (Well 10+ anyway!!!!) I think that its good that the Balliet put a map of all the places Petra and Calder went to. Now for the story, on a October night in Chicago, there were three letters sent out in the same neighborhood, saying the exact same thing: Dear Friend, I would like your help in identifying a crime that is now centuries old. This crime has wronged one of the world's greatest painters. As those in positions of authority are not brave enough to correct this error, I have taken it upon myself to reveal the truth. I have chosen you because of your discriminating eye, your intelligence, and your ability to think outside of convention. Although you may never meet, the three of you will work together in ways none of us can predict. If you show this to the authorities, you will most certainly be placing your life in danger. All three of the letters was not signed, and none of them had return addresses on them. In this book there is a hidden message, I haven't figured it out but I'm trying! It is in the pictures. Be sure to look at the pentomino key near the beginning. The map is there too!!!!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...a wonderful book... Chasing Vermeer was a wonderful book to read. If you love mystery books, then this is the perfect book for you. When I was reading Chasing Vermeer , I always wondered what would happen next. I could never stop reading to put the book down.That is how much fun and exciting the book is. I also liked the of the code that Calder and Tommy used in the book. I recommend this book because it also shows you how to look at the art world in a different way. I think what Blue Balliet is trying to say is that everything is alive in a certain way. I hope this is not Blue Balliett's last book. I am really looking forward to reading her next novel.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...sure-fire hit... This is a great book written by the renowned Blue Balliett. The author showed how the friends in the book remained united through thick and thin uncovering clues to solve an art theft. A sure-fire hit recommended for kids and kids at heart!!
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ...ok but still was very exciting... This book was ok but still was very exciting. Blue Balliett wrote this book in a way that would please children. He also showed his inner child when he was writing this book because I really felt that he was writing about his dreams and imaginations as a child. For example, when Vermeer was running from the F.B.I. That's every child's dream to be chased by the F.B.I. Anyways in other words I really enjoyed the book and would recommed it to other children my age.
Date published: 2005-09-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mystery like no other Every situation described in this book is linked to another. What is obvious may not be at all. What is sure to be unrelated may actually be. You have to be aware of the patterns and clues given to you as you're reading to solve the mystery. I enjoyed reading this because i had to keep guessing what the next thing could happen or I had to figure out how did a particular information would fit in the puzzle. It's sorta funny how many events were coincedental. It's a good read about mystery and art. Good descriptions by the author and pretty illustrations to help you picture the scenarios.
Date published: 2005-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mystery like no other Every situation described in this book is linked to another. What is obvious may not be at all. What is sure to be unrelated may actually be. You have to be aware of the patterns and clues given to you as you're reading to solve the mystery. I enjoyed reading this because i had to keep guessing what the next thing could happen or I had to figure out how did a particular information would fit in the puzzle. It's sorta funny how many events were coincedental. It's a good read about mystery and art. Good descriptions by the author and pretty illustrations to help you picture the scenarios.
Date published: 2005-06-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from charming story for kids and adults alike The most intriguing aspect of this detective-type novel are the many smaller puzzles interwoven in the larger mystery. Petra and Calder are colourful ,bright little geniuses with a knack for getting their young noses in mischief! The illustrations by Brett Helquist ( best known for his work in the Lemony Snicket novels ) add to the charm and magic of this tale.... your 11 year old may also learn a thing or two about art history.... and that cannot be a bad thing ! I read it in one sitting.... sheer mysterious delight !
Date published: 2004-12-18

– More About This Product –

Chasing Vermeer

by Blue Balliett
Illustrator Brett Helquist

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 288 pages, 7.63 × 5.27 × 0.57 in

Published: May 1, 2005

Publisher: SCHOLASTIC INC

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0439372976

ISBN - 13: 9780439372978

From the Publisher

When a book of unexplainable occurences brings Petra and Calder together, strange things start to happen: Seemingly unrelated events connect; an eccentric old woman seeks their company; an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has stumped even the FBI?

About the Author

Blue Balliett grew up in New York City, where she often visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum. Blue studied Art History at Brown University. She taught at the University of Chicago Laboratory School before becoming a full time writer. Her first novel, Chasing Vermeer, won over a dozen awards and sold in twenty-eight countries. Balliett still writes in her laundry room, assisted by her twenty-pound cat. She lives with her family in Chicago, Illinois. For more information about Blue Balliett, visit http://www.scholastic.com/blueballiett/

Editorial Reviews

"The Westing Game. The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. How exciting to find a book that conjures up these innovative, well-loved titles." - Booklist, starred review "Puzzles, codes, letters, number and wordplay, a bit of danger, a vivid sense of place, and a wealth of quirky characters enrich the exciting, fast-paced story that''s sure to be relished by mystery lovers." - School Library Journal

Appropriate for ages: 9

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