December 11, 2010

Remember When: Chasing Vermeer

In Remember When I revisit awesome books from the past.  These may be books I read when I was in school or just a few years back.  Either way they are books that need to be remembered and revisited.  I hope more of you think about doing a Remember When and spread these fantastic books around!
This Week I'm Remembering:
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Why I'm Remembering It
I read this book to my students several years ago not knowing for sure how they would react to it.  I decided to read it to them because it's a great mystery (of which there are NOT enough of), and I knew not many would pick it up on their own.  They LOVED it! The mystery kept them wanting to hear more.  What they really loved were the pictures included throughout the book.  I made overheads of them and put them up during those pages.  You should've heard the discussions and arguments about what was in the pictures.  If you don't know, the pictures might contain clues.  I also put them in a binder so they could look at them.  Many would explore them on their down time.  And the best part - they didn't have the mystery figured out half way through.  They were still guessing right up to the end.  How great was that?! It was just an overall fun read.
To add: my daughter read the book and then needed to read the next two books The Wright 3 and The Calder Game She loved them. 
Side note:  Blue Balliet has a new book out The Danger Box.  It looks fantastic!!
About Chasing Vermeer from Goodreads
A puzzling art theft is solved by two sixth-grade sleuths in a first-rate first novel by Blue Balliett, illustrated by Series of Unfortunate Events artist Brett Helquist. Cut from similar cloth to The Da Vinci Code while harkening back to E. L. Konigsburg and Agatha Christie, Balliett's book follows young Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay as they piece together separate, seemingly disconnected events to locate The Lady Writing, a Vermeer painting that gets stolen en route to Chicago's Art Institute. Going on the theory that there are no coincidences, the two wonder about the link between their teacher's statements, Petra's dreams, a book Petra finds in the library, and other clues that set the reader guessing as to their significance as well. But after they learn of the culprit's aim to correct untruths about Vermeer's life and art -- which spurs them into full-throttle detective work -- the pieces all come together in a brilliant ending sure to make readers cheer, "Ah ha!" Infused with intrigue and Helquist's clever illustrations that include coded messages, Balliett's novel is a dynamic can't-miss that will get those brain cells firing as it satiates your appetite for intelligent, modern-day mystery.

If you want to do a Remember When that would be great! I'd love to see more "old" book highlighted.  Feel free to take the pic and link back to this post. 


  1. I have a lot of students who love this book as well. The puzzles and premise of the story are so clever!

    Great feature!

  2. Blue Balliett's website can be found at

  3. I love the "Remember When" concept! If someone hasn't heard of a book, then it's new to them, whether it was written in 2010, 1996, or 1923... This book, for instance, is new to me, and I might have to check it out. A good art-related mystery sounds like fun. :) Thanks for the recommendation!