Bulldog Library

Chasing Vermeer

on May 12, 2013

JF Balliett    •    AR Reading Level: 5.4    •    AR Points: 6.0    •    Quiz #78186

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When Petra finds a discarded book at her favorite bookstore, she becomes intrigued with the theories of its author, Charles Fort, who proposes that people often overlook what is right in front of them simply because they cannot explain what is happening.  She shows this book to her classmate, Caulder.  Together they begin to view the world in a much different way and recording every odd, unexplainable, seemingly coincidental thing they notice.

When a famous Vermeer painting, A Lady Writing, is stolen from the Chicago Institute of Art, Petra and Caulder apply their observations to help solve the mystery of the missing art work.

Chasing Vermeer is a mystery book filled with puzzles for the reader to figure out as they follow Caulder and Petra’s adventure.  These puzzles are sprinkled throughout the book in encrypted letters between Caulder and Tommy and in secret patterns hidden in the book’s many illustrations.  This is not a traditional mystery book with detectives collecting fact-based clues.  Caulder and Petra collect clues based on intuition, dreams, and an esoteric reading of pentominoes like ancient runes.   Readers wanting a traditional mystery with a traditional detective would do much better choosing on of the many Encyclopedia Brown books or Eion Colfer’s Half-moon Investigations.  However, readers interested in art history or those who enjoy solving puzzles might really enjoy Chasing Vermeer.

This is the first in a trilogy of mysteries that revolves around famous works of art.  The other two books in this trilogy are: The Wright 3 and The Caulder Game.

Genre: Mystery  •  Interest Level: grades 4-8

Balliett, B. (2004). Chasing Vermeer. (Brett Helquist, Illustrator).  New York, NY: Scholastic Press.

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