This is the first of three books featuring Petra and Calder, who are both awkward students at a Chicago middle school. Petra feels lost in her gigantic family, and Calder is missing a good friend who has just moved away. The theft of a painting begins new discussions about art in their community. Strange things begin to happen, and both Petra and Calder start to believe they aren't just coincidences.
The Wright 3 and The Calder Game are two more books featuring mysteries with Petra and Calder.
This mystery is appealing to many readers, in part because it introduces pentominoes, which are defined shapes similar to tangrams, and includes a secret pentomino code. The story raises good questions about the responsibility of ordinary people to think for themselves and not rely upon experts.
Scholastic has an online pentominoes game that requires Flash, but you can play it to get a sense of what pentominoes are (as seen in the book), and you can experiment with some spatial relationships.
"Chasing Vermeer book quote"
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