Chasing Vermeer

Final Project

Character Introductions

Chasing Vermeer has many different people involved in many different situations. The main characters throughout the novel are two twelve year old kids, in 6th grade that become very close friends through a famous art theft. Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay become mixed up in the groundbreaking theft of an incredibly famous painting "A Lady Writing." Petra and Calder live next door to each other, and they haven't ever really talked until this year because they ended up in the same 6th grade class. Ms.Hussey,- their teach is definitely not like other teachers. She is very out-of-the-box, and she doesn't stick to normal lessons or teaching methods. She believes that you will only truly learn something if you are learning about something that interests you, or something that matters in the world today and will make a difference in your life. Almost halfway into the mystery, the kids meet an older woman who was very interested in Vermeer. Her name is Mrs.Sharpe. Her husband was killed while he was researching about the artist, because so little was known about Vermeer's life. Mrs.Sharpe seems suspicious to the kids, and Petra and Calder consider her as a possible suspect. Their teacher also was fascinated by Vermeer, and the art world itself. Calder has a job at Powell's bookstore, owned by Mr.Watch. Calder's good friend Tommy, has another friend whose name is Frog. He randomly disappeared one day, and it caused the kids to think. A man named Fred, told of himself to be Tommy's stepdad so that he would seem perfectly normal. All characters hide something, and they each played a key role in the story.

Main Character Identities

Themes Throughout Chasing Vermeer


There were many themes portrayed over the course of the novel. To name a few:

  • Friendship
  • Teamwork
  • Critical Thinking
  • Be Unique, everything isn't always as it seems
  • Be wise and creative. Friendship is demonstrated in the novel because without each other, the mystery wouldn't have been solved. They learned a lot from each other, bounced ideas off of one another. Although each of them failed at times, the other was always there to help them and encourage each other to keep working. Teamwork is definitely shown in the book because the two of them together accomplished many different things, and when you put them together, the mystery was solved. They both gave each other lots to work with and think about, and they needed each other to succeed. Critical thinking was used because there were multiple instances where they thought they had something, but it turned out to be completely different than what it seemed to be. Always take a second look, and never underestimate yourself. Be creative and think about all the possibilities, it's very easy to look right past something and that could be the answer.

Plot Setting

The plot setting is always very important in a summary because it lets the reader have an introduction to some of the main details in a story. The story takes place in Chicago, mainly at a 6th grade school building, Delia Dell Hall, and the street on which Calder and Petra live. Their teacher, Ms.Hussey received one of the mysterious letters, but she doesn't let on anything. She keeps quiet and pretends everything is fine, but the kids can see that something about their teacher- who is normally bubbly, quirky, out of the box and exciting, has changed and made her seem dull and questionable. The police arrested her as a suspect, thinking she had stolen the painting and then she finally let out that she had received one of the letters and the police let her go. She returned to school with her arm in a sling once as well, which made the kids think even more about what could be going on. A thief has stolen one of Johannes Vermeer's paintings, and the whole art world is up in arms! Hardly anything is known about this former artist, and he has few works left behind. Each of the remaining ones are very treasurable. Everyone is searching, but the kids come across many coincidences that normal adults would skip over, but the kids pay attention, follow the clues, and put together the pieces.


Chasing Vermeer has a lot of setting changes throughout the novel, however they are the same few main places. Delia Dell Hall was the main location spot, since they often searched there. The painting was found under the twelfth stair there. Also, Calder and Petra often ran back and forth between each others houses, and spent a lot of time together there! The school was a main location spot, however that was just somewhere they searched and spent a lot of their time. They found many of the coincidences that were used to find the painting, at the school. Calder was trapped in the basement there for the entire day thinking he had found the painting, when really it was just a painting from a while ago that looked like it was done by a 2nd grade student!
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A Lady Writing

Dear Friend,

i would like your help in identifying a crime that is now centuries old. This crime has wronged one of the world's greatest painters. As those in positions of authority are not brave enough to correct this error, I have taken it upon myself to reveal the truth. I have chosen you because of your discriminating eye, your intelligence, and your ability to think outside of convention.

If you wish to help me, you will be amply rewarded for any risks you take.

You may not show this letter to anyone. Two other people in the world have received this document tonight. Although you may never meet, the three of you will work together in ways none of us can predict.

If you show this to the authorities, you will most certainly be putting your life in danger.

You will know how to respond. I congratulate you on your pursuit of justice.