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Chasing Vermeerby Blue Balliett
Synopses & Reviews
In Olive's third adventure, what lurks below the house could be as dangerous as what's hidden inside . . .
Some terrifying things have happened to Olive in the old stone house, but none as scary as starting junior high. Or so she thinks. When she plummets through a hole in her backyard, though, she realizes two things that may change her mind: First, the wicked Annabelle McMartin is back. Second, there's a secret underground that unlocks not one but two of Elsewhere's biggest, most powerful, most dangerous forces yet. But with the house's guardian cats acting suspicious, her best friend threatening to move away, and her ally Morton starting to rebel, Olive isn't sure where to turn. Will she figure it out in time? Or will she be lured into Elsewhere, and trapped there for good?
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
For fans of The Westing Game and The 39 Clues, a third exciting Winston Breen adventure!
Winston Breen and his friends Mal and Jake accompany Mr. Penrose for a weekend of puzzles and games at the mansion of a famous musician. Over the course of the weekend, some guests’ prizes and belongings inexplicably disappear. As the group continues with the elaborate puzzles—which the reader is invited to solve too—some of the guests try to figure out who is stealing things, and others become suspects. But in the end it’s Winston who stumbles upon several clues, and eventually discovers the real culprit. A fast-paced whodunit, this latest Winston Beren installment will have readers hooked!
When a book of unexplainable occurences brings Petra and Calder together, strange things start to happen. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal. Can they decipher a crime that has stumped even the FBI?
About the Author
Blue Balliett is the author of several bestselling, acclaimed mystery novels, including Chasing Vermeer (a Book Sense Book of the Year and an Edgar Award winner), The Wright 3, The Calder Game, and The Danger Box. She writes in the laundry room of her home in Chicago, Illinois, and you can find her online at www.blueballiettbooks.com.
Brett Helquist was born in Ganado, Arizona, and grew up in Orem, Utah. He entered Brigham Young University as an engineering major, but soon realized this was not the right choice for him. Having decided to take time off from college, he headed to Taiwan where he stumbled into a job illustrating English textbooks, which he enjoyed. There, a friend introduced him to an illustration student, also from Brigham Young University. This introduction inspired Brett to eventually switch majors. After spending a year in Taiwan, he went back to BYU and transferred to the illustration department. In 1993 he received a fine arts degree in illustration.
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