# Shortcut back to Pocket Pentominoes # Book Review:# The Wright 3#o

# Book cover, 'The Wright 3'# THE WRIGHT 3
by Blue Balliett
Published by Scholastic Press, New York, 2006

Reviewed by Kate Jones

This sequel to the bestselling Chasing Vermeer continues the saga of two sixth-graders, Calder and Petra, to solve a mystery that eludes the grown-up detectives. This time they are joined by a returning friend of Calder's, Tommy, who has a rare talent for finding stuff. After a rocky start fraught with jealousies and insecurities, the threesome pick their way through many clues and crises.

Calder's pentominoes that he carries in his pocket provide frequent clues and leads. The F, L and W turn up with strange appropriateness—Frank Lloyd Wright's initials!

The plot turns on the fate of the Robie House in Chicago, built by Frank Lloyd Wright. The author weaves and splices the elements of the story with the skillful artistry that Wright put into every detail of designing the house, like the many facets of a stained-glass window that is the crux of the denouement.

Tommy happens to live right next-door to the Robie House, which has been scheduled for demolition. The kids work their way through the intricate plot, and the dark and dangerous rooms of the house, with wit and courage, unraveling secret identities, the plans of scheming thieves, and a hidden message from Frank Lloyd Wright himself.

They are aided and abetted by their extraordinary teacher, Miss Hussey, whose unorthodox teaching methods should be used in every classroom. One of their campaigns is a publicity event to stop the demolition. [In real life, also, the Robie House is now a historic landmark and assured of survival.]

And what are all those fish doing there? Brett Helquist's delightful illustrations have hidden images that support the mystery.

Blue's superlative writing captures the individual personalities of all the characters, the scenes, the history, the atmosphere, with a flair and style that holds its own with the best. Once you start reading, you can't put it down. We predict another bestseller for Blue Balliett. And we eagerly anticipate each future sequel.

From our own perspective, what makes Blue's tales so outstanding is that there is suspense and excitement without resorting to murder and gratuitous violence. There is a deep current of enduring values. Even the bad guys are only wounded and captured. It is so refreshing to find a story where cleverness, intelligence and resourcefulness are predicated for all—author, characters, and reader.

We should mention that Kadon and its products have no connection whatsoever with the books and their publisher, nor with Warner Bros. and their intended film of Chasing Vermeer. We're just happy to acknowledge the good work others do in presenting the concept of pentominoes so affectionately and intelligently in the popular media.

The publisher, Scholastic Press, has a charming webpage for Blue Balliett's books — Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game — with several interactive windows where you can play a variety of puzzle challenges with the 12 pieces. And you can order the books from them. Just type the title into their Search box.

For her extraordinary contributions to popularizing pentominoes, Kadon was pleased to present to Blue Balliett the Gamepuzzles Annual Pentomino Excellence award for 2006.

Read also our reviews of Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game.

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