Parents' Guide to

Pieces and Players

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Kids from various books unite in muddled art-heist story.

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This story throws together a lot of disparate elements and often doesn't quite gel; readers who don't know the previous books (mentioned frequently) will often find themselves at sea. There's an oddly matter-of-fact acceptance in PIECES AND PLAYERS not only of the existence of ghosts but of the ability of long-dead people to communicate telepathically with people through images and poetry. Many readers will find the frequent emoting over artworks a bit much. But most off-putting is the chore of dealing with several characters' idiosyncratic quirks; Calder's constant fiddling with pentominoes (a math toy) and stream-of-consciousness, apparently oracular word associations; Zoomy's note-taking and punctuating his sentences with "hodilly-hum" and "jittery-splat"; as well as several characters' tendency to burst out in Mother Goose rhymes. In the end, the payoff may not be worth the trouble.

For whatever reason, the book does not include actual images of the stolen art, which includes works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Degas, still missing in real life, even though it devotes much space to describing and analyzing them. Images are readily available on the Internet and may help you follow along.

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