Chasing Vermeer Extension Activities
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
About this book
About the book
When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay together, strange things start to happen: seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, and an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one—neighbors, parents, teachers—is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem-solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has left even the FBI baffled?
Great readers make connections while they read in at least three important ways. They think about connections between the book they are reading and others they have already read (text-to-text connections), they think about how the book relates to their own personal life or memories (text-to-self connections), or how it reminds them of something from the larger world, like issues in the news or something that is happening in their own neighborhood (text-to-world connections). As you read Chasing Vermeer create a chart with columns for each of these three connections and keep track of the connections you make.
Inspired by Brett Helquist’s illustrations, draw a scene from the novel (with or without the main characters) and embed clues about the mystery. Frame them with black construction paper(or create fancy frames with interesting hand-drawn carvings on brown construction paper) to create a mystery gallery. Hang in the hallway or use as a bulletin board display.
Study the art of Johannes Vermeer (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/vermeer/). Choose your favorite painting by Vermeer and explain in a journal entry why this piece is your favorite. Discuss the following elements of the piece you chose: the subject, the palette, the light, and the texture. Are there any Vermeer paintings that you feel the thief might have been right about, that don’t fit with the rest of the artist’s work?
Explain what makes you think this.
Science and Art
Calder loves the Vermeer painting "The Geographer" and the idea of mapmakers. “Mapmaking was a respected profession, something between a science and an art.” (p. 74) Create your own map of your neighborhood using the science of geography and your own artistic ability. Make it a map that is useful to you and your family and don’t forget the important details.
Petra and Calder are interesting characters to follow on their quest for the Vermeer painting. Brainstorm a list of qualities characters in a mystery of your own might possess. Decide the following: What do they look like? What are their favorite hobbies? What are their best subjects in school? What do they struggle with at school, home, and with other people? What are their favorite foods? Write a brief scene where one of your characters discover something has gone wrong.