A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the only troubling thing here is the behavior of the kids who are the main characters. Calder strikes up a conversation with a stranger in a public park, decides not to tell his father, and later goes off alone with the man. Tommy and Petra disobey the police, and Tommy steals a wheelbarrow.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After a class trip to see an exhibition of the works of Alexander Calder in Chicago, Calder Pillay travels to a small village in England with his father, who is attending a conference. There they discover another work of Calder in the town square, but soon after they arrive both the artwork and the boy disappear. Hearing this, Calder's friends, Tommy, Petra, and Mrs. Sharpe, arrive to help with the investigation.
Is it any good?
Codes are still here, but have nothing to do with the plot. Pentominoes have become little more than something for Calder to fiddle with. The mystery is bogus, and the kids, after much lurking around, don't even solve it. There's really nothing left except for the author's fascination with art, which she tries to pound into her readers at tedious length. Even the story sags; The author lamely tries to gin up some tacked-on suspense with foreboding chapter endings that lead nowhere and are about nothing -- "a sense of something hovering" (there isn't anything), watching eyes (which are never connected to anyone), strange sounds, and the like. Balliett writes well enough, but it's time for her to move on to a new idea.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Alexander Calder and his amazing art. Why does it have the effect on us that it does? In what way is it art? To learn more about Calder, start with the links below, and look to see if there is any of his art near you that you can visit. Also, there are many books on how to make mobiles, and your kids may enjoy trying their hands at it.