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The Wright 3 Hardcover – April 1, 2006

68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439693675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439693677
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Blue Balliett grew up in New York City, where she often visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Frick Collection. She took public transportation to school around the city, and discovered early that every crowded bus or train is packed with mystery and drama'and that stories are everywhere. Balliett studied art history at Brown University. She and her family lived year-round on Nantucket Island for many years, and now live in Chicago. Before becoming a full-time writer, she taught at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Balliett is a recipient of the Chicago Public Library's 21st Century Award, the first time the award was given to a children's book writer. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and has been featured in various national and international publications.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By R. Baker on August 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I thought I'd give this author's second book a chance even though I found her first one ("Chasing Vermeer") rather disappointing. I like her Hyde Park setting, I like the way she works art into her stories, I like the way the teacher in the book runs her classroom as a place of exploration rather than a lecture hall. So--I thought, thought I--maybe with all these strong elements in place, the author will improve her plotting abilities in her second book.

Alas, no. The story has so much potential that is never met. Once again, coincidence and "intuition" play a huge, way too huge, role in the resolution of the storyline. The Scooby-doo type ending (wherein the bumbling adult bad guys are "unmasked" and supernatural events explained at least in part by their stupid criminal plans) is disappointing and unpredictable from the things we've seen earlier in the story.

The pentaminos storyline has grown wearisome, the bibliomancy one of the kids performs using "The Invisible Man" is irritating and irrelevant, the coded messages simplisitc and unintriguing.

The relationship between the three kids is nicely portrayed--their jealousies of one another, and their attempts to reconcile differences and balance individual needs with group needs. I also liked how the kids in the story work for a cause--saving the Robie House--and I found their demonstration in front of the house in which they "destroy" works of art by chopping them up to be the most interesting part of the book, far superior in terms of action and emotional content than any of the so-called mystery elements. This part of the book is worth reading, and worth having kids read, both because of its philosophies and because it shows how actions by individuals can make a positive difference. Hope the author's next book moves more in this direction and away from the pseudo-mystical, pseudo-supernatural, pseudo-mystery lines the first two have followed.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jordan K. Henrichs on January 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have to get this off my chest before I begin, I loved Chasing Vermeer. Loved it. At the heart of the story, I thought it was a clever mystery. While the intentional loose ends and coincidences drove me crazy, I thought it was all an integral part of what Blue Balliett set out to create. I couldn't wait to see what she did next and was probably one of the first people bursting down the doors of our local bookseller to buy a copy the day it was released.

Then I got busy, the life of a school teacher isn't easy, and The Wright 3 sat on my shelf for quite a while until recently, I was in the mood for a good mystery. I dusted off the beautiful jacket cover by Brett Helquist and kicked back, ready to see what Calder and Petra were up to now.

I usually like to include a brief synopsis of each book I review, but I have to tell you, I don't know where to begin on this one. Petra and Calder are once again the focus, and this time around, Calder's friend Tommy Segovia has moved back into town, causing all sorts of jealousy between our sleuthing protagonists. Instead of a mystery, this is what really drives The Wright 3 and Balliett does a great job with the trios developing relationship. Tommy struggling as a new kid in school, Petra struggling with Tommy and Calder's friendship, Calder wishing Petra and Tommy would just get along. The tension between the three is almost unbearable. But it's perfectly written.

If only I could say that about the rest of the story. I was okay with Balliett's obsession with coincidences in Vermeer, but this time around, it really gets annoying. In Vermeer, her obsession fit in nicely with the premise of the story. In The Wright 3, over half of Balliett's coincidences never even add up to anything.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I think that this book was good and putting it next to the last one I thought that it was a little more interesting. The reason I gave it four stars instead of five was because I thought that the plot of this book was so similar to the last. Also it seemed that the new character, Tommy Segovia, had become the center of attention in the book and pretty much solved the whole puzzle. There did not really seem to be a need for Calder and Petra. Besides that the plot of the story was a really good one and you cant seem to stop reading. All of a sudden you are at the climax of the story. Overall the story was good and full of surprises.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By mcHaiku on May 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In Blue Balliett's second mystery, Chicago schoolmates Petra, Calder & Tommy learn that Frank Lloyd Wright's deteriorating masterpiece, the Robie House, is designated for an unusual math feat of *L O N G DIVISION*! The Wright gem is to be severed so that sections can be given to four major world museums. With fellow 6th graders, the seasoned sleuths are fired up to save that treasure. Their adventures >>PLUS<< scaline triangles, Fibonacci numbers and pentaminoes . . . are all added to a broth kept simmering with a valuable fish 'find' as well as some unexplained & extraneous happenings. Blue Balliett once again leans heavily on the stylish illustrations of Brett Helquist to add complications so loved by young readers brought up with large doses of fantasy. His many illustrations of the main characters (including "Goldman" the fish) suggest that while all kids don't have "A.D.D's" the chapters do tend to be quick reads.

Some criticisms of "Chasing Vermeer" cited "too many coincidences." In "The Wright 3" author Balliett makes coincidences a necessary part of the book's framework, a legacy from her last book. The average "tween" reader also seems to revel in "codes" whether they make sense or not . . . but they will be enthusiastic about this tale regardless. There are also ghostly figures >>AND<< red herrings netted at every turn. Are the clues mostly imagined? Will Petra & Tommy rub each other out? Have you wondered if author Balliett has teamed up with the NEA to raise the consciousness of "tween" readers regarding the world of Math & its impact? These questions are offered in case you feel a need for more actual mystery!
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