Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Review: The Wright 3
By Blue Balliett, illustrated by Brett Helquist
Published 2006 by Scholastic
A new mystery awaits Petra, Calder and newly-relocated Tommy, this time involving Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House. When the house is threatened with dismantling, the trio must find out if there's a way to save this architectural masterpiece.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Chasing Vermeer, I was eager to pick up the next mystery featuring Petra and Calder. I was a bit more interested in this mystery than the first, simply because I know slightly more about Frank Lloyd Wright than I did about Johannes Vermeer. However, I was slightly disappointed in this one personally. Balliett spends more time in this novel focusing on the difficulties of a pair transitioning to a trio and the interpersonal relationships between the kids than on the mystery itself. What I loved most about the first was the way Balliett wrote the mystery - a lot of it seemed mired in coincidence and circumstance and just a really enjoyable mystery for kids. So I picked up this one expecting more of the same. And, while the mystery does play out in a similar manner (encompassing such wide ranging topics as Fibonacci numbers, The Invisible Man, and the mystery of triangles), it didn't really seem to be the focus of the book. However, for that reason, this book would have made, perhaps, an even better book club title than Chasing Vermeer. The storyline involving the trio getting used to their new configuration is one that numerous children would easily relate to and have opinions on. Additionally, though I wanted the book to focus on the mystery, I like that Balliett chose to take the book in a slightly different direction; it prevents the two titles from feeling too similar. I love the use of codes throughout the book, just as I did for the first. I think these books have great kid appeal and I'm still looking forward to reading the third.