Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett (2004)

51WFQB62RHLQuirky characters and plenty of puzzles fill the pages of this middle grade mystery about an art theft.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 254, with pictures (for ISBN 9780439372947)

Genre(s) and keywords: mystery, puzzle

Tone/Style: logical

Pace: moderate

Topics: art, theft, puzzles, investigations

Themes: truth, art

Summary: When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay together, strange things start to happen: Seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, and an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears.

Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one–neighbors, parents, teachers–is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into the 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 left even the FBI baffled? (Source)

Who will like this book?: Readers who like to think, like puzzles, and want to solve a mystery for themselves will eat this title up.

Who won’t like this book?: Readers who like thriller-type mysteries may prefer titles with more action. Readers who aren’t interested in working their brains will likely want to steer clear.

Other comments: The book includes illustrations by the fabulous Brett Helquist.

Sequel(s): The Wright 3 (2006), The Calder Game (2008), Pieces and Players (2015)

Readalikes: Booklist, School Library Journal, and Kirkus all liken this title to The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Fans may also enjoy The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

-Kylie Peters

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