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Friday, April 11, 2014

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet

Chasing Vermeer   

What a fun mystery for middle schoolers!

Book Description:  This bewitching first novel is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art.

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?

What a fun mystery for middle schoolers!  I ordered this one for Mila, but I had to read it first.  I know, I know--but the book is not hurt in any way from pre-reading.

Art history, mathematical puzzles, problem solving, intriguing characters in Petra and Calder, and suspense are all included.  

I even ordered a set of pentominoes to go with the book.  We all played with the puzzles, although Mila didn't start the book because she was to involved with one of The Land of Stories books.

Ever wonder what inspired Tetris?

Did you know that Arthur C. Clarke included pentominoes in Imperial Earth?  

From the Amazing Mathematical Object Factory:  
The pentomino puzzle is a popular choice for a classroom manipulative to facilitate learning how shapes can be transformed or arranged in a predefined shape and space by simple rotation, reflection, and translation. The pentomino puzzle is readily available and also easy to make. It is a fun way for students as young as grade 3, to learn the basic concepts in tranformation of shape and space.

Want to try some pentominoe puzzles?    online puzzle form Scholastic        

I liked the book, the art connection, the introduction to pentominoes, the mystery, the characters.  It is a great book for the 10-12 age range, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

My favorite mysteries for this age group remain The Westing Game Ellen Raskin and The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, but this one was fun, too.

Read in March

Middle School.  2012.  304 pages.


  1. I was just going to compare it to The Westing Game! I mean, not having read it -- I was going to say that it sounds vaguely Westing-Game-ish. I think The Westing Game is still the best puzzle book I've read, for any age.

  2. :) I agree--The Westing Game IS the best of its kind! I liked this one 'though because it had so much about art and about pentominoes--education with the mystery.

  3. Oh, I do hope this available in the UK. I love art and puzzles and mystery books. What is there not to like?