Synopses & Reviews
Spring semester at the Lab School in Hyde Park finds Petra and Calder drawn into another mystery when unexplainable accidents and ghostly happenings throw a spotlight on Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, and it's up to the two junior sleuths to piece together the clues. Stir in the return of Calder's friend Tommy (which creates a tense triangle), H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man, 3D pentominoes, and the hunt for a coded message left behind by Wright, and the kids become tangled in a dangerous web in which life and art intermingle with death, deception, and surprise.
"Unlike the set-up in Balliett's Chasing Vermeer, no crime has been committed yet when Petra, Calder and Tommy begin the final weeks of sixth grade in the University of Chicago's Laboratory School. But the class does wonder if it's 'murder' for the university to demolish a 1910 Frank Lloyd Wright house it owns, and sell off the pieces to different museums (an author's note reports that the real Robie House was almost demolished twice, and that pieces of Wright houses reside in museums the world over). Those who enjoyed the first adventure will be quickly drawn in once more by the charmingly subversive Ms. Hussey who, with her students, hatches a plan to preserve the building. They decide to cut up posters of fine art in front of the house, to demonstrate that, as Petra puts it, 'cutting it up would be the same thing as cutting up a priceless painting.' The project morphs into an obsession for 'the Wright 3': Petra suspects a mysterious stranger is linked to subterfuge surrounding the house; Calder notices that the home is like a giant-size version of his set of pentominoes, and Tommy unearths an ancient jade fish on the grounds that may have been Wright's lost talisman. The blue M&Ms from the first book have been replaced by red gummy 'herrings,' but other ingredients remain a sophisticated subject spiced by puzzles, codes and a soupçon of danger as the titular trio works to stop the wrecking ball from swinging. Ages 8-12." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Balliett's atmospheric writing encourages readers to make their own journeys of discovery into art and architecture, creating a mystery subgenre that is as unique as it is compelling." School Library Journal
"[S]ome children may find this second installment more arcane than the first..." Booklist
"Another tour de force blending art, math, philosophy, history and literature." Kirkus Reviews
"This second book with Petra and Calder, and the effort to save another important piece of artwork, will not disappoint readers." Children's Literature
"[A]nother exciting art adventure....This installment is a worthy follow-up and provides a wonderful opportunity for young readers to think about buildings as art." VOYA
Frank Lloyd Wright's famous building, Robie House, is in danger of being destroyed, and Calder, Petra, and Tommy also known as "the Wright 3" must use Calder's geometric brain, Petra's writing and observational skills, and Tommy's research skills to decode the cryptic messages the house seems to be sending out. This exciting Chicago mystery reunites readers with characters from the bestseller Chasing Vermeer.
About the Author
Blue Balliett grew up in New York City. She has always loved museums, always loved mysteries, and always loved hearing about things that can't be explained in the usual ways.