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THE WRIGHT 3 by Blue Balliett Kirkus Star


by Blue Balliett & illustrated by Brett Helquist

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-439-69367-5
Publisher: Scholastic

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)