Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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****Chasing Vermeer

by Blue Balliett

illustrated by Brett Helquist

Reviewed October 1, 2004.
Scholastic Press, New York, 2004.  254 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #6, Children's Contemporary Novels

Chasing Vermeer is The Da Vinci Code for kids, without the religious overtones.  It deals with a mystery involving actual works of art.  A coded puzzle is included in the illustrations, fitting in perfectly with the theme of the book.

A thief has stolen one of Vermeer’s paintings, and he or she challenges the art community to tell the truth about Vermeer.  Why are “early” and “late” Vermeer paintings not as outstanding?  Is it possible that Vermeer’s students passed their own work off as his?

Calder and Petra think that their teacher, Ms. Hussey, knows something about the crime, but they can’t believe for a moment that she would be guilty.  What about the old lady who’s so interested in Vermeer?  Coincidences keep happening around them.  Could those coincidences have meaning?

This is a fun story with a mystery and a puzzle to solve.  The author does use lots of coincidences in helping Calder and Petra solve the crime, but she gets away with it by making her characters interested in coincidences that are more than what they seem. 

This book made me want to look up Vermeer’s paintings myself.  Just as The Da Vinci Code had people looking at Leonardo da Vinci's work with new eyes, this book makes you want to find out more about Vermeer and his work.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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