I haven’t listened to an audio book since trips to Virginia by car or since The Dark Tower by Steven King first came out as an audio attempt, which had to stop after book four because of the death of King’s reader–many years ago. I am currently finishing the Dark Tower, circling back to pick up a skipped book four, then finishing up where I am now with the conclusion, book seven.
That said, I heard of a kid’s book, Chasing Vermeer, which our local library had only on audio book. It has been a good accompaniment to peeling potatoes and otherwise putting meals together as well as an off-your-feet pastime during my recent foot woes.
The two middle school protagonists, Calder, a boy and Petra, ( a female stand-in as best friend for Tommy who has recently moved away ) are likable and extremely intelligent, and are enrolled in an exceptional sixth grade class at the university lab school. Balliett, the author, and Ellen Reilly, who voices the novel, bring them to life as they strive to solve the mystery of a mid-transit theft of a painting by Vermeer, the mysterious painter of mysterious paintings. Wondering if their teacher and an old lady in the neighborhood are involved, the two kids become immersed in a fast paced, twisty-turny adventure.
The descriptions of Veneer’s paintings are accurate and well done, tantalizing the reader’s mind until she looks them up to see the paintings themselves. I wished the CD box had had a paper portfolio of the paintings orally described. As the children are intrigued by the patterns, connections, and “coincidences” in a strange book by Foote, their sixth senses come into play as they investigate the goings on in their school and neighborhood. Strange letters, police protection, and the kidnapping of a painting to draw attention to Vermeer all merge together to make a delightful mystery and a good read for any sixth or seventh grader.