Chasing Vermeer & A Lady Writing

While I was doing some research, I came across this mystery novel which deals with the theft of one of Vermeer’s paintings: A Lady Writing, which is actually the painting I have been working on the whole semester.

Chasing Vermeer is a children mystery novel dealing with the theft of Vermeer’s A Lady Writing written by Blue Balliet and illustrated by Brett Helquist. The novel is set in Hyde Park, Chicago. The thief responsible for the disappearance of the painting claims that he will not give the painting back to the museum unless the community figures out which paintings under Vermeer’s name were actually painted by him. As a consequence, the community and, especially two children, Calder and Petra, start examining art more carefully in order to get the painting back.

The themes of this novel are various: art, chance, coincidence, deception, and problem-solving. What is more, Balliet asserts that the central message is that kids are powerful thinkers whose ideas are valuable and that adults do not have the answer to every single question.

As for its critical reception, Chasing Vermeer has received many positive reviews and, in fact, it has awarded in several occasions, for instance, the Agatha Award for Best Juvenile mystery novel in 2005 or the Chicago Tribune Prize for Young Adult fiction in 2004. In 2004, Warner Brothers bought the rights to make a film based on Balliet’s Chasing Vermmer.

I think that the author took a wise decision when he  realized he wantes to write a book about art devoted to children. I think the plot is well-built and, what is more, the way the reader in involved in the story through the hidden messages provided by the illustrations can be very entertaining for children, since it makes them participate in the story.