Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet

March 8, 2012
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There are no such things as coincidences.

So when a priceless Vermeer painting is stolen en route to Chicago amid recurring frogs, mysterious letter-deliveries, and their sixth-grade class’s art unit, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee know what they have to do. Strange dreams, blue m&ms, and psychic pentominoes, as well as their lovely teacher Ms Hussey and shrewd neighbor Mrs. Sharpe can only help. The lady in the painting is calling to them, and it’s up to the two friends to wade through the web of deception, put together the clues, and find The Lady Writing before she’s lost forever.

This is a book about looking at things a little differently, about recognizing patterns in the strangest of places, about looking and listening to find the truth. If there’s a sideways mystery and a lesson in art history along the way, so much the better. The characters are realistically peculiar, the writing thoughtfully vivid, and the illustrations (yes, illustrations) by Brett Helquist really do add on to the atmosphere of the book.
Chasing Vermeer is followed by two sequels, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game, one about a famous architect and the other about a unique sculptor, where Petra and Calder engage in more art-sleuthing adventures.

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