Jazmine Shoup's Reviews > Chasing Vermeer

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
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Feb 15, 12

bookshelves: chasing-vermeer
Read in February, 2012

Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliet and Illustrated by Brett Hellquist, is an adventurous mystery story, appropriate for more advanced elementary aged readers. The book follows the lives of two young kids, Petra and Calder, and their journey to solve the mystery of the missing Vermeer painting. The book is full of intrigue and excitement as you urge to read from page to page. The plot and character development throughout is well presented, and the overall thematic purpose was reached. The illustrations offer a better understanding of the text, as well as provide an enticing pentomino mystery for young readers to solve.
The plot is especially full of fascinating and interesting characters and overall development. The plot centers around the events that consume the lives of Petra and Calder, but incorporates other characters such as the beloved and eccentric teacher, Mrs. Hussy. Other characters throughout the novel include Mrs. Sharpe and Mr. Watch, as well as, the mysterious thief that steals the long sought after Vermeer painting A Lady in Waiting. Each character adds an important element to the development of the novel! The book follows a myriad of events that take Petra and Calder on a wild chase to track down the missing work of art. Overall, the development of the story will intrigue and interest all who read it. The book provides wonderful visualizations as it develops the intricacies that bring together the plot of the story. The following quote provides a wonderful example of how the book offers amazing visual representations for readers to connect to. “Outside, it was pouring rain. The water was running and puddling. As Calder absentmindedly watched the droplets forming and re-forming in shape after shape, an idea came to mind.” This is just one of the many times throughout the book where the author offers a great visualization through the text. Along with the wonderful imagery that was provided through the text, the illustrations offered a great amount of detail and creativity for the reader to experience as well. Although there were not an abundant amount of illustrations, the ones that were presented throughout added greatly to the understanding and visual pictures that readers could create as they read. To me, the illustrations provided great visualizations of the characters that the reader could connect to. Having a picture of a character in mind is often a great thing to have when reading an entire novel, as in this case. The use of the Pentiminoes also added a creative twist to the mystery. These illustrations paralleled the mystery of the plot and allowed the reader to have an even greater interest in the novel.
Overall, I thought that the novel was a great book for older elementary aged readers. It incorporated enough upper level vocabulary but had an intriguing plot that wouldn’t lose the attention of the elementary aged reader. Mysteries often prove to be favorites of elementary aged kids, which makes this novel a great choice! The age of the main characters, 6th grade, is also a relevant feature of importance. Kids often enjoy reading stories about kids that are similarly aged as them, because it makes it that much easier for them to connect to the characters and overall plot development. Teachers could use this novel in the classroom to provide a lesson about mysteries, as well as teach a lesson about art. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel choice, and would highly recommend it for the classroom setting!
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