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Chasing Vermeer (Chasing Vermeer #1)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  19,439 ratings  ·  1,762 reviews
Illustrated by Brett HelquistWhen 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. Blue Balliett's bewitching first novel is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventu ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 264 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Thorndike Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Raevyn ~I Stand For Jesus~ Chasing Vermeer is first, followed by The Wright Three, then The Calder Game, then the one I've forgotten the name of.
Raevyn ~I Stand For Jesus~ could figure that out by reading, but I'll tell you.
He's of Indian and Canadian descent and he likes pentominoes. That's about all I know so…more could figure that out by reading, but I'll tell you.
He's of Indian and Canadian descent and he likes pentominoes. That's about all I know so far, since I'm not very far in the novel.

I hope I answered your question. :)(less)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 10, 2008 Joe rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children who like to be bored.
Shelves: middle-school-ya
"A Da Vinci Code for tweens." - Newsweek

This is only one of the quoted praises lumped on Chasing Vermeer and proudly emblazoned on its back cover. It is probably the most apropos quote because it hinges almost entirely on the readers' familiarity with and reaction to Dan Brown's novel.

If you found Da Vinci Code boring, trite, melodramatic, sophomoric, and preposterous, you will probably have a similar reaction to Blue Balliett's debut young adult novel, Chasing Vermeer.

Balliett has stated that i
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett was given to me by a friend because it was similar to From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler. As I'd read that and liked it, I was eager to read this. I've recently become more interested in Vermeer, so that added to my motivation.

There are some things I liked about the book. There are two protagonists who are both perceived as "nerds," but they are initially interesting and rather likeable. (Their names, by the way, were carefully chosen by Balliett
Kata Bel Air
This book may very well be the worst book I have ever read in my entire life. Why? Let me break it down for you.

There's a painting. It gets stolen. Lucky for the art museum of Chicago, three fifth graders have a plan to get it back. So if you'd ever read the last three chapters of flat stanely, you have read this entire book.

First of all, I generally hate mystery books anyway, which is most likely a prime factor of my hatred for this book. Secondly, I hate mysteries that involve children, just
I loved parts of this book and disliked other parts, so there you are; the epilogue ending is particularly bad (in that "I don't know how to work all this into the plot, so here, this is what happened" kind of way). The "there's no such thing as coincidence" stuff would have been way overdone in any other book, but I understand that that was one of the author's main points here; still, I wasn't convinced. And the art history reads as coming straight from the author's Brown BA at least twenty yea ...more
Another YA purchase from Green Apple books, and to be honest, a disappointment. This is a new-ish book, published in 2004, and while I had never read it before, I had high hopes. I had read reviews that said it was clever, it has expert illustrations by Brett Helquist (Lemony Snicket’s illustrator), and the inside flap lead me to believe it was a puzzle tale in the same vein as The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin.* Chasing Vermeer is not a terrible book, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Through a string of seemingly unrelated events, Calder and Petra find themselves in the center of an art heist that has the world buzzing and the Police and museum officials puzzled. Can Calder and Petra find the priceless Vermeer before it’s too late? And what exactly do their teacher Ms. Hussey and Mrs. Sharpe, the old lady down the street, have to do with it? The University of Chicago campus and Calder and Petra’s neighborhood of Hyde Park are the backdrop for this fast moving tale of art and ...more
This book was a lot of fun to read. It reminded me a little of a Da Vinci code for younger minds, only in some ways this book was a lot trickier. Throughout, there is a pentomino code, and another hidden code which I never tried to decipher, although I saw the clues. Codes aren't my thing. But I was still pulling out a notebook to decrypt the letters going between two friends in certain chapters.

I think this is a really original and unique book, that looks at things in all sorts of ways--ways we
Tyler Jones
There is much to admire in this book, but unfortunately quite a bit to dislike as well.

The story of two kids who solve a mystery will encourage young readers to question authority, think outside the box and look for interesting connections in the world around them. All good things, right?

Unfortunately, there is a whole lot of potential problems with the kind of philosophy this book advocates. A belief in parapsychology is a dangerous thing to instill in children because it easily leads them to
I had far too many problems with this book to even start to enumerate them. I'll just mention the one thing I really liked about sharing the experience of listening to this book (the first half) and then reading it aloud (the second) with my son. It so happened that when we reached the point in the story where Vermeer's painting "A Lady Writing" is introduced, we were visiting my mother's home in Northern Virginia. On the morning of the drive home, it turned out to be really easy to make our fir ...more
this book rocks, and so do blue m&ms!!!!!!!!!!! a really good story!
I liked this book because it was fresh, unique, and had two interesting protagonists that I loved reading about. However, I had a problem with the actual plot of the story there are a few things that I did not like: (view spoiler) ...more
The star rating may be a little unfair. For me, as an adult, it's two stars. Any kid age 8 to 12 probably would give this 5 stars. This is a code within a story, and I had a hard time deciding which to pay attention to. Because there's also an identical code in the pictures which is easily deciphered, I chose story. I'm pretty sure the code is easily deciphered within the story, I just didn't write down each time the author mentioned a specific pentomino.

The storyline really is pretty good with
I might have enjoyed this more had I not had its predecessors in the forefront of my brain. Such as, the two kid main characters in Chasing Vermeer becoming obsessed with a work of art which reminded me so strongly of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler. And the back rather made it sound like a mystery that could have been written by Ellen Raskin. So, with those two things in mind, this book could be nothing but a disappointment. Well, perhaps 'disappointment' is the wrong word, ...more
Connie Strong
Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliet and Illustrated by Brett Hellquist,is a fascinating mystery novel that continually draws readers in. In this respect it is a very interactive novel. For starters the two main characters, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee, are perceived to be extremely geeky. However, they both realize that they have many common interests such as both liking blue M & M's, and end up becoming great friends. Their quirks have an appeal that readers cannot help but like. Calder and ...more
Katelan Mccullum
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett is such an intriguing book for young adult readers! I absolutely love mystery books and this one kept me on my toes! I found myself unable to put it down wanting to know what would happen next. I must say that the end was not what I expected. This book could be pinned as a spin off of the Da Vinci Code and the characters, Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay really bring the story to life. This book will relate well to children who feel as though they get caught in st ...more
Emily Peed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Samantha Sheeran
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett is a story about two sixth graders who go on a magical adventure! The book starts out by 3 anonymous people receiving a letter asking for help to uncover the truth about an artist named Vermeer. You find out at the end of the book that these three people in fact live in the same area and are related in many ways. Petra and Calder seem to be your typical sixth grade students, until you realize that they think very differently than other sixth graders. They are mes ...more
I loved Chasing Vermeer!!! It has lots of art history and mystery. I really like mystery books, and this is a great and mysterious book. You have so many characters and events, that you have lots of different suspicions. I actually had nothing to read, and so my mom texted my violin teacher because I was going to a violin lesson, and she suggested Chasing Vermeer. She said that she knew I would love it, and I definitely did. I would suggest this book to anyone looking for a good mystery book tha ...more
I really wanted to like this, and I think it could have been really great, but unfortunately the coincidences and psychic connections were all too far fetched for me within the context of an "ordinary" book (no supernatural/magical element).

I liked the kids, the way they were nerdy and both from interesting racial backgrounds, and the way the authority figures were all fallable and the kids genuinely cared about them. I also liked the way art - history and interpretation - was handled, because
Nick Lopez
I have just finished reading Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.This book is a book full of mystery and excitement, the book is about two young children named Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay.Petra and Calder are both alike for the fact that they both wanted to find to find the old vermeer painting that went missing later in the story.But Petra also was picturing the fame that he would get in the news from finding exactly who stole it.This led me to think that Petra was just doing it for the fame ...more
best bookever1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Chasing Vermeer is a selection for one of my book clubs, and it has an interesting premise in presenting a mystery about Vermeer's paintings. My attention was caught immediately by Chapter One, "Three Deliveries", as 3 mysterious letters are delivered to characters we don't discover until close to the end of the book.

Those types of plot twists are very interesting, and I also liked the two main protagonists, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee. They're classmates in Ms. Hussey's sixth grade, and Blu
I wish schools operated the way John Dewey thought they should, "Dewey believed in doing, in working on relevant projects in order to learn how to think." I suppose there are just not enough teachers like Ms. Hussey. "...Petra loved how Ms. Hussey listened carefully to the kids' ideas and didn't care about right and wrong answers. She was honest and unpredictable. She was close to perfect." Petra wondered if humans needed questions more than answers. Interesting!

What is Art was a big question th
Josh Bush
I generally enjoy these lighter mystery books written for young adults. A quick read with no heavy emotional baggage so wade through. The mystery behind this one was well thought out, and the characters were definitely unique and not cookie cutter transplants from any other story in the world.

My biggest problem was that the idea underlying the story, that coincidence doesn't exist and everything is mysteriously interrelated, was not worked into the story well enough for it to be compelling. It j
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sue Leatherman
Raining Frogs, Secret Codes, a Lost Vermeer Painting, and Pentominoes – What Do They Have in Common?

Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee, students of Ms Hussey’s sixth grade class, discover that many strange things are happening around their neighborhood and that their teacher, Ms. Hussy, seems to be involved!

A valuable Vermeer painting disappears and then Calder’s friend, Tommy, sends a secret coded message to Calder about another strange disappearance. Before they know it, Calder and Petra are dra
I loved this book! Written by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist, "Chasing Vermeer" was a great chapter book. Two eleven year olds, Calder and Petra, help to find a famous piece of art done by Vermeer called, "A Lady Writing," which had been stolen while in transition between museums. Through their observations and adventures, the two rescue the painting and learn a lot in the process. This book is very mysterious and exciting. What seemed to be coincidence was not such a coincidenc ...more
Interestingly enough, for all the love this book gets, it basically sucks. The mystery hinges almost entirely on unimaginable coincidences and hunches, which is pretty weak. Even pre-teens deserve better than this. And unlike the DaVinci Code, to which it is strangely compared in a blurb, it drags and the adult characters are unidentifiable and bleed together.
Now, with all that said, I've never yet had a more enjoyable time reading a book with a group of twelve-year-olds. The kids were totally e
Holly Crepps
Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee strike up an unlikely friendship when their growing curiosity about a missing painting coincides. The two work together to research about Vermeer and his paintings in an attempt to solve the mystery behind the stolen painting. The story unfolds as Ms. Hussey's sixth grade class reads a letter from the painting thief about how he stole the painting because of the long lasting mistake that Vermeer didn't really paint all of the paintings that have his name. The myst ...more
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Sorry, but... 6 48 Jan 11, 2015 08:16AM  
Teen Critic: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet 6 44 Jan 11, 2015 06:07AM  
Manchester Distri...: Chasing Vermeer: Artist, Caillebotte 3 8 Nov 19, 2014 04:12AM  
Children's Books: October 2014 Chasing Vermeer 19 29 Oct 31, 2014 11:49AM  
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I was born in New York City and grew up playing in Central Park, getting my share of scraped knees, and riding many public buses and subways. By the time I was a teenager, I sometimes stopped at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Frick Museum after school, just to wander and look and think. The Met has five Vermeer paintings and the Frick three, so Vermeer and I have been friends for many years ...more
More about Blue Balliett...

Other Books in the Series

Chasing Vermeer (4 books)
  • The Wright 3 (Chasing Vermeer, #2)
  • The Calder Game (Chasing Vermeer, #3)
  • Pieces and Players
The Wright 3 (Chasing Vermeer, #2) The Calder Game (Chasing Vermeer, #3) Hold Fast The Danger Box Pieces and Players

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“The greatest art belongs to the world. Do not be intimidated by the experts. Trust your instincts. Do not be afraid to go against what you were taught, or what you were told to see or believe. Every person, every set of eyes, has the right to the truth.” 59 likes
“You will come to agree with me.” 9 likes
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