Chasing Vermeer Final Project

By: Sophie Krivograd


This story starts off with 3 people receiving letters from an anonymous person saying they have to complete a task about ancient art. These people were Ms. Hussey, Mrs. Sharpe, and Mr. Watch. Calder and Petra get to know each other and find themselves talking to each other in on the trip to the Art Institute. One day Petra finds a mysterious book called Lo! This book talks about strange occurrences, missing people, and frogs falling out of the sky. That night, she had a vision of a lady. Meanwhile, Calder keeps in touch with his friend Tommy who now lives in New York. Through their secret code he learns about what happens to a person named Frog who lived by Tommy and about his step dad, Fred. Calder pays a visit to Mrs. Sharpe- an older lady who lives down their street, because of her name being in the book Lo! By: Charles Fort. Calder discovers that she too has a copy of The Geographer; a painting by Vermeer in which was on a box Calder got from his grandmother. On Halloween, Calder recognizes Petra's costume; it was the lady she dreamed of. With all his research on Vermeer Calder identifies the lady s from the painting A Lady Writing. With everything weird going on, Petra and Calder research at the library. They later decided when they eat blue M&Ms it symbolizes a mysterious and rare taste. With A Lady Writing in mind, they called the National Gallery of Art to see if A Lady Writing was on the wall. The lady on the phone said that it will be in Chicago in the Art Institute for a show called 'Writers in Art'. The next morning, an article in the newspaper says that A Lady Writing has been stolen. The thief also wrote a letter for the public with certain demands they have to meet to get the painting back. After that, Ms. Hussey's classroom (Petra and Calder's teacher) was investigating if Vermeer's paintings were real or not. This is what the thief demanded for. Soon the whole town was interested in art, and the case. Another day in class Ms.Hussey describes a scenario just like the one in the three letters sent. (Petra knew this because she found one of the letters.) The letter said to not tell the police about it or they are risking their lives, Mrs. Sharpe did not listen. This calls for higher security for her, so she isn't in danger. Ms. Hussey also tells the police she received a letter after her. During this, Petra and Calder attempt at solving the mystery with Calder's pentominoes. Thinking that the painting is in the school basement, Petra and Calder look down there with excuses that are measuring the building. Calder ends up getting trapped in the storage room because of Mrs. Trek, the lady that let them come down was coming back from her bathroom break. Later, Petra gets him out of there, and Calder realizes the package that he thought was the real one was a fake. After a while all the coincidences start to come together and Petra and Calder start to get somewhere. They know where the painting is, it is under dark wood. Calder uses the coincidental number (12) on the staircase in Delia Dell Hall. They lifted it up and found the painting. While they were evacuating the building Calder sees a man. The man started chasing them and got Calder while Petra ran. The thief turned out to be Fred (Tommy's step dad who moved out of his apartment) and he was also known as the "Glitter Man". Petra and Calder saved the painting from being sold to a man for 60 million dollars. Now after the case is solved, Ms. Hussey and Mrs. Sharpe go to dinner together, Petra realizes she might be related to Vermeer and Calder and Petra find more reoccurring 12 patterns!


The setting in this graphic novel is in Chicago in recent times. In the story, Petra and Calder go to different places on the streets in this city. Some streets that places they go are; University Avenue, 57th street, 59th street and Harper Avenue which is also where Petra found one of the three letters. As the story moves on, places that events take place are the Art Institute, Delia Dell Hall, Gracie Hall, Fargo Hall, Mrs. Sharpe's house, Petra's house, Calder's house, Powell's used books, post office, middle school and the high school. Below are some examples of some places Petra and Calder visited.


The theme of the novel Chasing Vermeer is teamwork. Petra and Calder worked together to solve this case, so really working together is teamwork. It is clear that in the story Calder and Petra both helped each other solving the case. For example, both of them researched Vermeer, they both went to each other's houses to discuss what they found and lastly they both made plans together and basically solved the case with teamwork. Another example of how teamwork is in this novel is how three letters were sent. The letter said "Although you may never meet, the three of you will work together in ways none of us can predict." This shows that the three people which are Mrs. Sharpe, Mr. Watch and Ms. Hussey will work together in order to solve the mystery. Obviously, any type of working together in this novel is teamwork.


Pentominoes play an important role in this story. Pentominoes are a set of puzzle pieces in which there are 5 squares on each piece, there are also 12 in each set. With all the pentominoes put together it forms a rectangle. It does not always work however; you have to turn the shapes in order to form a rectangle. Besides rectangles, they can form many different shapes, but they also do something for Calder. Calder says that pentominoes speak to him. For example, he pulls one out of his pocket. Each pentominoes is a letter so what every letter that he pulls out stands for a word. It is the first word that pops into his mind or another that makes more sense. That word helps him get a step forward to solve the mystery. Some of the words that he used were F which stood for Charles Fort which was his Halloween costume. Another letter is U which stood for understand, under and University school. This is how pentominoes play an important role in the story Chasing Vermeer.