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Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Calder Game by Blue Balliett

The Calder Game
The Calder Game, written by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist, is the third book about Calder Pillay and his friends Petra and Tommy. The seventh graders have another mystery to solve and more art to save after successful investigations in Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3. This story focuses on the art of and ideas inspired by Alexander Calder, as well as mazes and more puzzles to solve.

Calder and his classmates go to the new Museum of Contemporary Art exhibit featuring Alexander Calder's mobiles and learn about the Calder Game. The Calder Game invites people to create their own mobiles made out of objects, ideas, words, or anything else you could imagine! While the kids are fascinated by the art and ideas, their new teacher, Mrs. Button, is very strict and not much fun. Calder is excited to get out of school for a few days when his dad decides to bring him along to a conference in England.

Meanwhile, a large statue called the Minotaur has been anonymously donated to a small village called Woodstock in England. The old-fashioned locals are very upset by the modern art that has been plopped in the center of their hundreds-of-years-old town. When Calder and his dad arrive in Woodstock, they're shocked by how much the locals dislike the statue (especially since Calder Pillay was named after the artist).

One day, the Minotaur is missing from the town square, with only the words Wish Wish left painted on the cobblestones, when Calder himself goes missing as well. The town and the police are busy searching for signs of the Boy and the Artist. After his friends find out he's gone missing, Mrs. Sharpe decides to bring Petra and Tommy to England to help find Calder. Tommy and Petra will do everything they can to help find Calder, which includes sneaking out late at night to search the grounds of Blenheim Park, where he was last seen.

Has the same person responsible for stealing the statue also taken, or worse, hurt, a boy with the same name? Will Calder’s friends be able to find him? Will anyone pay attention to Pummy the cat's clues? And what does that strange American named Arthur Wish have to do with anything?

While The Calder Game is good, I didn't like it as much as the first book, Chasing Vermeer. I haven't read the second yet, but this one didn't hold my interest as much as the first. There was so much going on and multiple changes in point of view so that it didn't hook me like Chasing Vermeer did. I hope someone can let me know which one The Wright 3 is more like and if I should read it.


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