The Calder Game

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
The Calder Game Book Poster Image
Third in the series is the weakest of all.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

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.


A man is thought to have been hit on the head hard enough to put him into a coma.


British candy brands mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink brandy and whiskey.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKatKat555 September 2, 2019

This is a great book!

I loved this! I definitely do not agree with the two stars! This book is filled with interesting facts and many interesting twists! I love that it is about a r... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 and 14-year-old Written bybballgirl47 September 28, 2009

Good for tweens and older but not younger.

I love it i Think that as long as your kids understand that they should never talk to a stranger not tell you about it and not go with them somewhere alone, it... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMatan O. July 22, 2015


How the heck did this this book win two stars I loved it
Kid, 12 years old September 4, 2011

Read it! Now!

The Calder Game is a wonderful book! Full of Art, History, loyalty, and those suspenseful edge-of-your-seat bits! Some adult situations, yes, but that's t... Continue reading

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?

Chasing Vermeer was a tightly woven, and the sequel, The Wright 3, was entertaining, but THE CALDER GAME makes it clear that the author went one book too far.

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.

Book details

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