an_Assyrian, November 16, 2006 (view all comments by an_Assyrian)
After receiving a recommendation from a trusted Powell's employee, I purchased this math, art, mystery, and adventure book for my 8-year-old daughter who enjoyed it very much. Since we visit Powell's bookstore, museums, and caf?s located within the University of Chicago campus, this unique book complete with a university setting and sweet characters, made for a delightful reading. Father and daughter's next adventure book from this (hopefully!) series, "The Wright 3".
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Mimi, October 15, 2006 (view all comments by Mimi)
Mysteries worth reading are hard to find. This one mixes math (pentaminoes-figures made of 5 touching squares), art, and mystery. My students love it. It leaves you with the sense that art is valuable and important in people's lives. True to the mystery genre, there are red herrings, 2 sleuths, and deductions to be made. Appropriate for 5th graders for sure.
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Yascas, August 15, 2006 (view all comments by Yascas)
As are so many things in life, this book is a mystery.
With nothing but an imagination and a set of pentominoes (mathematical tools) the reader is led into a braintwisting maze to uncover the marushka doll-like layers of serets that lay hidden within this story.
The preface to the book states, "Don't be fooled by ideas that seem, at first, to fit easily. Don't be fooled by ideas that don't seem to fit at all. Pentominoes, like people can surprise you." So will this book.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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?
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