Chasing Vermeer (Chasing Vermeer, #1)
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Chasing Vermeer (Chasing Vermeer #1)

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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  14,817 ratings  ·  1,522 reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
A puzzling art theft is solved by two sixth-grade sleuths in a first-rate first novel by Blue Balliett, illustrated by Series of Unfortunate Events artist Brett Helquist. Cut from similar cloth to The Da Vinci Code while harkening back to E. L. Konigsburg and Agatha Christie, Balliett's book follows young Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay as they...more
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Scholastic Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Joe
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...more
Richard
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...more
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...more
Wendy
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
Carrie
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.

It...more
Jenny
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
Jaemi
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...more
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...more
Emily
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
Natalie
this book rocks, and so do blue m&ms!!!!!!!!!!! a really good story!
Tracy
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...more
Melee
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
Megan
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...more
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...more
rachel
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...more
Chelsea
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
Kara
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...more
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
Liz Hammet
Chasing Vermeer is a mysterious novel that would be an excellent story to spark young student's interest in mystery novels, particularly for 3rd-5th graders. Chasing Vermeer, written by Blue Balliet, entails a young girl, Petra, and a young boy, Calder, who become apart of an actual art mystery. Calder and Petra live in the same neighborhood and attend the same school near Hyde Park in Chicago. Ms. Hussey is their teacher, and likes to incorporate real-life learning into the curriculum she teach...more
Jessica Maynard
Chasing Vermeer is a good mystery book for children. There were many parts in the book where I was anxious to see what was going to happen next. I was found myself caught up in Petra and Calder's adventure to find the thief. In some parts of the book I found myself thinking about what I would do next. Because the main characters are 6th graders, I can picture many 6th grade readers being interested and able to relate to this book. It's hard to imagine two 6th graders finding clues and solving a...more
Lauren Burrell
I really enjoyed reading this book. Its about two young children Petra and Calder who are on a mission to find a missing Vermeer painting that someone has stolen. They start noticing so many strange coincidences and begin putting them together to solve a huge mystery that has captured peoples attention world wide. They discover that their beloved teacher may be involved as well as another lady they have met Mrs. Sharpe and begin searching for clues everywhere. They discover that Mrs. Sharpe who...more
Chantee Jordan
A mystery that's sure to have the reader questioning every event and person they have ever met by the last page. The story will have you anxious from page to page following Petra Andalee's and Calder Pillay's quest to find a thief of priceless painting. The reader is presented with as much information as each character and the narrator knows nothing more. This, however, keeps one interested and also builds on the purpose of a mystery. What's even better about this novel is that there are two pro...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
Linsey Ward
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily Peed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brad
This was a great thriller/suspense/adventure/mystery novel that kept the reader interested and on the edge of their seat. The highly detailed cover got me interested but, I lost interest when I saw that it was 250+ pages. As I started reading the novel, pages started flying by and I was 50 pages in before I paid any attention to it. It was the story about a boy named Calder and a girl named Petra who started out as just classmates that never really associated with one another until chance events...more
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
Carla Pelayo
Chasing Vermeer is an interactive mystery that will appeal to kids of several different genres. The main characters, Petra and Calder, will appeal to students that enjoy different interests as well. Balliett incorporates elements of art, literature, math, and science into this exciting page-turner. Petra and Calder are both nerdy, introverted classmates who become detectives working together to uncover the mystery of a missing famous piece of artwork. Their eccentric teacher encourages the stude...more
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86085
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...
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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.” 48 likes
“You will come to agree with me.” 9 likes
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