Miss Hussey’s class has been challenged to save Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite building from destruction.
Miss Hussey’s class is investigating art again. But this time it’s not a painting; it’s an entire house! Can a house be art? Maybe, if it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, if it was his favorite of all the buildings he designed, if he went to Chicago two different times, in 1941 and in 1957, to keep it from being destroyed. Now it’s in danger once again, so Miss Hussey challenges her class to help save it.
The Robie House has secrets and tragedies in its past. Only three families have lived there, and each had to deal with terrible things — death, bankruptcy, divorce, and more. People say the house is haunted — windows open and shut for no reason, shadowy figures drift through the rooms, impatient footsteps echo through the halls. It’s almost as if the house is alive, and trying to protest its own destruction.
And as they begin their research, Petra and Calder begin to find coincidences that don’t really seem coincidental. Calder’s pentnominos of F, L, and W fit together to look like different parts of the house. Petra finds two copies of H G Wells’ The Invisible Man: one in a bookstore, the other thrown out of a train window by a man in a black cape as the train passes by her house. And she begins to see sets of three, all things having something to do with the house.
Tommy, Calder’s old friend, is back in town, and the tiny apartment he and his mother live in is right next door to the Robie House, and he can almost see into it. One day, he decides to see what the garden looks like, and starts digging in it. He digs until he finds a strange stone dragon-fish, and decides to keep it. He doesn’t tell Calder and Petra about it, because he’s jealous of their friendship. He wants it to be just him and Calder, the way it was before.
The Robie House has secrets, and so do Petra, Calder and Tommy. Will this uneasy trio be able to get along well enough to discover the house’s secrets and save the architect’s favorite building? Follow along with them as they piece together the clues, as well as their own relationships, and find out!
This booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart.