Thursday, December 03, 2009

Book Review: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

Davan and I started reading Chasing Vermeer together, but we resorted to each reading on our own, as time was limited. We had to finish by Tuesday for book group. This was actually a reread and, while it had been years, I had found memories and was looking forward to reading it again. It was pretty much an entirely new book to Davan, who seems to forget books if it's been more than two years (at least thus far in her life).

Previously, we'd listened to Chasing Vermeer, which was read by Ellen Reilly. We both really enjoyed it - a good book with a good reader.

This time, we opted to read it ourselves and it was a different experience for sure. There are pictures with a code to break in the book, for one, which adds quite a dimension. On the other hand, reading it myself instead of listening with Davan also seemed to make me have a different over all impression of the book, which lessened the experience for me.

Chasing Vermeer is the story of two kids, both of whom turn 12 during the story, who team up to solve the mystery of a stolen painting. Calder and Petra are quirky kids in a quite likable way. They each have a way of tapping into the unknown, so to speak, and a way of believing in the unexplainable. These characteristics are what lead them to being able to solve the mystery. Along the way, even though they did not start out as such, they become friends.

The first time through, when we listened and Davan was about 8, I think, we really enjoyed the book, both of us. This time, Davan loved it while I...well, it was still a good book, but I didn't love it as much. I have to say that some of the more mystical/clues-from-the-either sort of style of mystery solving bugged me a bit this time. That said, I enjoyed seeing the friendship develop between Calder and Petra. The introduction to pentominoes is great and, once again this year, I'm looking for some for Davan's stocking. It's also an appealing introduction to Vermeer, as an artist.

Overall, considering both times through Chasing Vermeer, I give it an 8. We'll be going on to explore the next two in the series - The Write 3 and The Calder Game.

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