Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Wright 3

I'm a big fan of YA fiction, and this little series by Blue Balliett, The Wright 3, the follow-up to Chasing Vermeer. The stories feature two Chicago kids who solve mysteries - in Chasing Vermeer they, I forget, solve some mystery involving a Vermeer painting, and in this one, they “save” the Robie House (by Frank Lloyd Wright) from destruction. Both scenarios are fictional, which Balliett is careful to point out in the extensive reader's guide in the back. She does not explain that her name and the illustrator's name (Brett Helquist) are also fictional, though they clearly are.

The characters are charming, the themes are interesting, and, most of all, I love that they are placed in Chicago, around one of the city's most beautiful neighborhoods, Hyde Park. Sure, there are some lame aspects, like a heavy focus on the theme of coincidence (huh?) but, come on, it's YA fiction. Both of the books, despite being written for kids, have introduced me to some mathematical-type concepts, like pentominoes and Fibonacci numbers (although, she explains that the interval for each number is 1 to 1.618 [the golden ratio, which I am familiar with] and that doesn't make any sense, right?*)

If I were a kid, I know I'd be inspired by the ideas presented in these books - especially regarding art. They remind me of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, not just one of my favorite kids books, probably one of my favorite books, period. I don't know of these Balliett books have the staying-power of E.L. Konigsburg's 1967 Newbery winner, but they're written in the same spirit, and likely to please readers both young and old.

* Because the sequence goes like this: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and so on, but the ratio between 1 and 1 is nothing, right? And the ratio between 2 and 1 is 50, right? So, I don't get it, but who cares?


Kathy said...

sounds great--- for what age/grade level would you recommend them?

Special K said...

Good Q. I couldn't say, myself, beyond "you know, KIDS", but according to Amazon: ages 9-12.

kbmulder said...

I've heard of Chasing Vermeer, but haven't read it yet. These look good!

Sometimes the book will have a kind of code on the cover or jacket which indicates the age level. Something like 09-12.

Kathy said...

Cool. Sounds like one for Haley this summer! Thanks for the heads up!