Monday, January 22, 2007

The Wright 3

Balliett, Blue. 2006. THE WRIGHT 3. Ill. by Brett Helquist. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439693675 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

Balliett continues with the characters that she created in CHASING VERMEER, but now there is an awkward threesome since Tommy has moved back to the area. Once again the children get involved in a mystery involving an artist – this time, American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The children learn that one of his homes, the Robie House, is going to be torn down because there is no money for its upkeep. Owned by the University of Chicago, the house has a fascinating, mysterious history that captivates the children’s imaginations and inspires them to protest its demolition. The detectives use their natural talents to try to figure out what is going on in the house and how can they save it.

Once again Brett Helquist does the cover art and inside illustrations. Helquist is a perfect match for Balliett’s novels giving the feel of Wright’s architecture with his line drawings.

Balliett has an eye for detail and an easy way with artistic terms and descriptions. Readers get as involved as the characters in trying to chart out the mystery of the Robie House. There is significant detail about Frank Lloyd Wright and his style of architecture, but not enough to ever bore us. Each of the three detectives is jealous of the other which seems very natural for a threesome. However, when the action heats up, the children finally trust each other enough to share what he/she knows resulting in the capture of the bad guys. Another high-class mystery from Bailliett, even better than her first.

Invite students to research one of Wright’s other buildings to see if there are any other hidden mysteries.

By same author and illustrator:
Balliett, Blue. CHASING VERMEER. ISBN 0439693675

By Cay Geisler

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