Blue Balliett is the author of several bestselling, acclaimed mystery novels, including Chasing Vermeer (a Book Sense Book of the Year and an Edgar Award winner), The Wright 3, The Calder Game, and The Danger Box. She writes in the laundry room of her home in Chicago, Illinois, and you can find her online at www.blueballiettbooks.com.
Brett Helquist was born in Ganado, Arizona, and grew up in Orem, Utah. He entered Brigham Young University as an engineering major, but soon realized this was not the right choice for him. Having decided to take time off from college, he headed to Taiwan where he stumbled into a job illustrating English textbooks, which he enjoyed. There, a friend introduced him to an illustration student, also from Brigham Young University. This introduction inspired Brett to eventually switch majors. After spending a year in Taiwan, he went back to BYU and transferred to the illustration department. In 1993 he received a fine arts degree in illustration.
Acclaimed for her sophisticated juggling of art concepts, mystery, philosophy and storytelling, Balliett (Chasing Vermeer) outdoes herself with this ambitious novel. Like its predecessors, it asks readers to consider big ideas, this time using the mobiles of Alexander Calder as a springboard. Now in seventh grade, series heroes Petra, Tommy and Calder first see Calder's mobiles at an exhibit at a Chicago museum. There they are introduced to the "Calder game," which invites participants to join five ideas or things that move in relation to one another, while looking for "balance, beauty, and surprise." Three weeks later, Calder accompanies his father to a tiny town near Blenheim Palace in England, where an anonymous donor has installed a Calder sculpture in the ancient town square, much to the villagers' dismay. Curiously, Calder's own presence seems to inspire dismay as well--until he, and the sculpture, simply vanish overnight. The mystery is crafted more solidly than in either of Balliett's previous titles, and the setting--enriched by the hedge maze of Blenheim and the possible proximity of the pseudonymous British artist Banksy--proves completely enticing. And once again Helquist encodes his b&w illustrations with puzzle pieces. Motivated readers will treasure this provocative title. Ages 9-12. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5-8-Those precocious art sleuths Calder, Petra, and Tommy are back, and this mystery is every bit as intricate, engaging, and delightful as Chasing Vermeer (2004) and The Wright 3 (2006, both Scholastic). The three seventh graders go with their class to an exhibit of Alexander Calder's mobiles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Soon after, Calder and his father travel to a remote village in England that has an anonymously donated Calder sculpture, the Minotaur, and a maze at Blenheim Park. Both the boy and the sculpture disappear on the same night. Balliett's love of words and her ability to tuck hidden, subtle clues into her story are evident throughout. Petra and Tommy fly to England to help Calder's dad and the police find their friend. The kids see mobiles everywhere: in the leaves, flying crows, paper trash. Indeed, the whole story is structured as a mobile, with plot and characters twisting and turning, moving and dancing around each other. The young sleuths are able to take what seems to be chance and coincidence and apply their own conclusions to the puzzle wrapped inside this mystery. Balliett's wonderful writing is full of foreshadowing, literary allusions, wordplay, and figurative language. Calder's signature yellow pentominoes play an important role, and the kids create a new code. Helquist's detailed illustrations enhance this multilayered story. Fans of the author's previous novels are in for a treat in this latest adventure.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.