Get discussion questions, extension activities, vocabulary boosters, a booktalk, and more ideas for teaching with Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.
Chasing Vermeer Booktalk
What happens when there are too many coincidences, too many puzzle pieces that fit together? Do you ignore them and pretend nothing’s happening? Or do you try to figure out what’s really going on?
People tend to see what they want to see or what they think they should see, twisting reality to fit their own expectations without even realizing what they are doing. What would happen if someone looked at the world without expectations (without assumptions about reality, about what is and isn’t real)? What kind of adventures might await such a person? There is much, much more to the world than most people think.
Petra and Calder lived on the same street, just three houses apart, and were in the same class at school, but they hadn’t ever even spoken to each other until they began to see how the pieces of the pattern and the parts of the puzzle fit together:
- Three mysterious letters.
- Homework assignments about letters and the way they could change lives.
- A discarded book full of strange ideas about reality.
- More homework assignments about art, and what makes an object a work of art.
- A set of pentominoes that almost seem to communicate with their owner.
- A Vermeer painting on the lid of an old box.
- The same painting hung on a wall.
- A dream of a girl dressed in a yellow jacket trimmed with black and white fur.
- A Vermeer painting of that same girl, stolen on its way to a special exhibition.
- And finally, a mysterious letter from the person who stole the painting, challenging the world to solve the mystery of Vermeer and recover the painting.
As Petra and Calder see one clue after another, and one apparent coincidence after another, they begin to realize that perhaps nothing is coincidental. Perhaps reality is not what it seems. Perhaps there is a different reality — and it’s up to them to figure it out.