Tanya Stone's Reviews > The Calder Game

The Calder Game by Blue Balliett
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did not like it
Recommended for: No one

** spoiler alert ** This book is bad. It is really, really bad. It is so completely evident that the writer head-tripped this book right from the start; witness the convenient first name of the character, Calder, coinciding with the Artist-For-Which-This-Book-is-a-Designated-Teaching-Tool.

Calder has a set of pentominoes. He keeps them in his pocket. This is his defining characteristic. By this you are supposed to understand that he is an unusual and clever boy. What does he do with them? He fiddles with them. The author is CONSTANTLY reminding the reader that Calder has pentominoes in his pocket. And what are pentominoes? Well, these are cut-out shapes in the form of letters. Calder has a complete set!

Calder has two friends. One is a girl. She is into words. Words words words. Sometimes she writes them down. Sometimes she just thinks about them. His other friend is a boy. He is a finder. A treasure hunter. He likes to find stuff. He thinks about finding things often. Because that's what he's about.

Calder's two friends don't like each other. That is so there can be CONFLICT.

Calder's father is going to Oxford for a conference. He decides to take Calder with him. They stay in Woodstock, because Calder's father wants Calder to experience an old town. (Oxford isn't an old enough town? Calder's father has to get himself back and forth to his conference at Oxford every day, half an hour away, so they could stay in an old town? No, it's so she could put the (or use the) Calder statue in Woodstock for her Problem.

The statue disappears. And Calder disappears! He goes off to Blenheim to see the maze. Did I mention the pentominoes? What does he do with them? He sits in a graveyard in Oxford and draws mazes. He has graph paper, so it isn't clear why he needs the pentominoes.

So, what do you do when your son disappears? Call the police to start one of their famous manhunts? Yes, the police are asking around at Blenheim, because there they found one of Calder's pentominoes under a bush in the famous maze. Did I meantion that Calder has a set of pentominoes? That he keeps in his pocket? They are very important to him.

So, what does Calder's dad do? He sends for Calder's two friends, all the way from Chicago, to come and help find Calder. Why? Because they know how Calder thinks! So they'll be able to find him!

And that is as far as I got. Because this is a really, really stupid book.

This woman really can write, though. Near the beginning, she describes Calder's class going on a field trip to the Chicago Museum of Art to see the Calder exhibit. (Calder is the Artist-Theme . . . I already mentioned this.) But Balliett's description of the Calder exhibit was terrific. She conveyed, with verve and passion, just what the effect of the exhibit is when you go see it. It made me want to go see it.

I wish she used her powers for good. Because this story is awful.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 1, 2013 – Finished Reading
February 19, 2013 – Shelved

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Megan Thanks for the funny, insightful review! Much more enjoyable than reading the book. (What you missed by not finishing was a series of painfully coincidental events and some more preaching about how art must be free.)

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