From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-With her distinct style, Balliett returns to Chicago and the detective work of Calder and Petra, sixth graders at the University School. This time they are joined by Tommy, Calder's former best friend who had moved away for a year. In this architectural mystery, destruction threatens Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, and the Wright 3, as the protagonists call themselves, piece together the puzzle that will lead to the building's rescue. While friction initially mars the three-sided friendship, Petra, Calder, and Tommy soon appreciate their individual roles in solving the mystery. Egged on by their unconventional teacher, the Wright 3 utilize Calder's geometric brain, Petra's writing and observing skills, and Tommy's uncanny findings to research and investigate the cryptic messages that Robie House seems to send in its own defense. Balliett elegantly wraps factual information on the building into a dreamy, Debussy sort of mystery in which seemingly random connections in everyday life uncover the hidden enigmas of Robie House and Wright himself. Balliett's atmospheric writing encourages readers to make their own journeys of discovery into art and architecture, creating a mystery subgenre that is as unique as it is compelling. While the book is not perfect-the final chapters jerk rather than flow, and the Wright 3's transition from awkward tolerance to a tightly knit cadre is nothing out of the ordinary-the mystery itself and the perfectly realized setting make this an essential purchase.-Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
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Gr. 5-8. How many newsworthy art crimes can 12-year-old sleuths thwart in a single year? At least two, as readers will discover in this sequel to Balliett's celebrated Chasing Vermeer
(2004). After all, "magical coincidences" are what these -thinking-kids' adventures are all about. Tommy Segovia, the best friend Calder corresponded with during the Vermeer crisis, has returned to Hyde Park, and he resents Petra and Calder's tight twosome. But when a house by Frank Lloyd Wright is slated for destruction, the sixth-graders overcome tensions to save the landmark and decode its secrets--among them, an intriguing buried artifact. Leapfrogging connections and mystical messages from Calder's pentominoes once again drive the plot, but some children may find this second installment more arcane than the first, with too much focus on Wright and his genius, difficult-to-follow gleanings from sources as eclectic as H. G. Wells' Invisible Man
and Fibonacci, and a central problem that lacks the glamorous hook of an international art heist. But determined fans will grab hold of the true-to-life friendship issues Balliett introduces, and some--particularly her brainiest, most open-minded readers--will emerge energized by the invitation to explore themes of an interconnected universe. A new pentominoes code appears in the narrative, and Helquist likewise embeds another challenge in his drawings (unfinished in the galley). Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved