Chasing Vermeer Project

By: Maddox Swanstrom

Plot summary

Chasing Vermeer is a 2004 children's art mystery novel written by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquist. Set in Hyde Park, Chicago near the University of Chicago, the novel follows two children, Calder Pillay and Petra Andalee. After a famous Johannes Vermeer painting is stolen en route to the Art Institute of Chicago, Calder and Petra work together to try to recover it. The thief publishes many advertisements in the newspaper, explaining that he will give the painting back if the community can discover which paintings under Vermeer's name were really painted by him. This causes Petra, Calder, and the rest of Hyde Park to examine art more closely. Themes of art, chance, coincidence, deception, and problem-solving are apparent.


The setting of this story is in Chicago. Hyde Park is a more specific location. In this story there are a lot of buildings mentioned in this story and all of these buildings are in Hyde Park. So that is our setting for this book.


The theme of this story is Justice. It is first seen with the three letters sent by the thief, wanting justice for Johannes Vermeer. This desire for justice was then expressed by the main characters as they searched for The Lady Writing.


A set of pentominoes is a mathematical tool consisting of twelve pieces. Each piece is made up of five squares that share at least one side. Pentominoes are used by mathematicians around the world to explore ideas about geometry and numbers. Calder uses these in the book to help him think and help him understand what is going on. They were an early birthday present from his cousin.