Wright 3
by Balliett, Blue; Helquist, Brett (ILT)

In the midst of a series of unexplained accidents and mysterious coincidences, sixth-graders Calder, Petra, and Tommy lead their classmates in an attempt to keep Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Robie House from being demolished.

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.

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). ((Reviewed February 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

The determined sleuths from Balliett's fine first novel, Chasing Vermeer (2004), return in another artful mystery, centered on one of Chicago's architectural treasures. As sixth grade wanes, the vibrant Ms. Hussey reveals heartbreaking news: Because of the extraordinary costs of maintenance and repair, Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, a city icon since 1910, will be dismantled in sections and donated to four museums. While the class's spirited campaign to save the building ends with the school year, the passionately curious Petra and Calder press on, abetted by Calder's good friend Tommy, just back from a traumatic year away. The shifting third-person narrative effectively captures the children's tense struggle to transform from duo to trio, and transmits their shared delight in puzzling, excavating and thinking deeply, creating a similarly heightened alertness in the reader. The "Wright 3" take increasingly bold risks to recover a stolen, priceless jade fish (Wright's own lost talisman) and save the Robie House. Many of the elements that made Chasing Vermeer such a success reappear here, from the culturally rich setting, to Calder's pentominoes (now three-dimensional), to Helquist's intriguing illustrations (not seen in their final state). Another tour de force blending art, math, philosophy, history and literature. (author's note) (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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