A stolen painting. A series of unexpected events. Two smart children Petra and Calder live in a neighbourhood where strange things have started to happen. Seemingly unrelated events connect, a sharp old woman seeks their company - and a priceless Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two children are caught up in an international ...
A stolen painting. A series of unexpected events. Two smart children Petra and Calder live in a neighbourhood where strange things have started to happen. Seemingly unrelated events connect, a sharp old woman seeks their company - and a priceless Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two children are caught up in an international art sensation where no one is above suspicion. As puzzling clues draw Petra and Calder deeper into the mystery, they must rely on their intelligence, their powers of deduction, and a newly acquired knowledge of the artist Vermeer, to crack an art crime that has left everyone baffled.
Wow, what an unusual story! Several disparate scenarios eventual are woven together to give a full story without a long, tiresome background-setting description that would have been necessary using a more conventional narrative style. Even the physical layout of the book is different. Two children have visions of two different paintings by Vermeer, and those paintings are on the front and back covers of the book. But the dust jacket has completely different artwork on it, showing the two kids mostly involved in the plot. An unconventional teacher, an elderly widow, and a bold thief complete the main cast of characters, with a host of minor characters keep the action flowing. I am looking forward to reading The Wright 3, the next title in this new series!
Publishers Weekly, 2004-06-14 Puzzles nest within puzzles in this ingeniously plotted and lightly delivered first novel that, revolving around the heist of a Vermeer painting, also touches on the nature of coincidence, truth, art and similarly meaty topics. Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay become friends in sixth grade at a school operated by the University of Chicago (Balliett taught at the University's Lab Schools), both of them independent thinkers excited by their maverick teacher, Ms. Hussey. For reasons unknown to her students, the teacher asks her class to ponder the importance of letters (the epistolary sort) and to mull over Picasso's ideas about art as "a lie that tells the truth." Readers have the edge on the characters, being privy to an enigmatic letter sent to three unidentified persons outlining a centuries-old "crime" against a painter's artistic legacy. These mysteries deepen exponentially when someone steals a Vermeer masterpiece and holds it hostage, demanding scholarly redress for misattributions within Vermeer's small oeuvre. The art mystery and the crisp intelligence of the prose immediately recall E.L. Konigsburg, but Balliett is an original: her protagonists also receive clues through dreams, pentominoes (math tools with alphabetic correspondences), secret codes (including some left to readers to decipher) and other deliberately non-rational devices. Helquist (the Lemony Snicket books) compounds the fun with drawings that incorporate the pentomino idea to supply visual clues as well. Thick with devilish red herrings, this smart, playful story never stops challenging (and exhilarating) the audience. Ages 8-12. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2005-06-20 "Puzzles nest within puzzles in this ingeniously plotted and lightly delivered first novel that, revolving around the heist of a Vermeer painting," PW said in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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