Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Published: 2004

Genre: middle grade mystery

Length: 254 pages

Setting: Chicago, present day

Interest: It caught my eye in the library because it’s about Vermeer (we’d done an author study on him earlier this year) and it contains a puzzle using pentominoes (which we’re doing for Fun Math Fridays right now in homeschooling). I had got it for the kids, but decided one of the ways I can make my 100 books goal is by reading more middle grade/YA books I try to get my kids interested in.

Summary: Petra and Calder are outsider in their 6th grade class. They’re drawn together when a Vermeer painting goes missing. Petra finds a book that encourages looking closely at coincidences and strange occurrences. Petra and Calder decide to try to find the missing painting and use their powers of observation and ability to put together patterns to do so.

Final thoughts: A fun little story that encourages loyalty to friends, not following the crowd, and looking for patterns. I enjoyed the role the pentominoes played int he story (and was able to decode the clues in the book to get the secret message). I also liked the fact that you had a boy and a girl becoming friends and both contributing to the relationship and the puzzle they were trying to solve. Unlike so many books, Petra had agency in on her own and not just via Calder. As a bonus, both of the main characters were minorities.

Apparently, there are several other art mysteries involving Petra and Calder in the same vein as this one. If your kids are anything like mine, finding a series they can enjoy is a great thing.

Title comes from: A Vermeer painting was stolen and Petra and Calder were chasing clues to find it.

Awards won: Edgar Award for best juvenile mystery and the Agatha Award for best children’s/young adult novel in 2005

Reading challenges fulfilled: 2/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, a C in my Title Alphabet Challenge, and my first Award Winning Challenge book

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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