Posts Tagged ‘Chasing Vermeer’

I recently read The Puzzling World of Winston Breen written by Eric Berlin. If you like mysteries written for children and you enjoy putting your brain to work solving puzzles then this book will be right up your alley. Eric Berlin, who happens to write crossword puzzles for the New York Times, has written a mystery that weaves a variety of puzzles and riddles into the plot for the reader to solve as they make their way through the story. The main character is twelve-year-old Winston Breen. He is a puzzle lover and often tries to find patterns and puzzles in everyday things, like the arrangement of toppings on a pizza. He is also well-known for creating puzzles for his friends and family to solve. When a small wooden box he gives to his sister at her birthday party reveals a hidden puzzle everyone at the party immediately thinks that Winston created the puzzle as part of the gift. Soon the partygoers realize that Winston is trying hard to figure out the puzzle right along with them and is just as confused as to where it came from.

Winston and his sister Katie agree to share the puzzle and try to solve it together. They discover however that their puzzle is one portion of a larger puzzle that leads to a hidden treasure left behind by a wealthy citizen of their town. The reader is introduced to a whole cast of characters including Winston’s two best friends, a librarian, an ex-police officer, two questionable treasure seekers and a local newspaper reporter. The group of characters come together to set out on a treasure hunt and to solve some mysterious burglaries that have been happening around town.

As the mystery unfolds the reader finds a series of puzzles and riddles sprinkled throughout the story. Some of the puzzles are pertinent to the plot and are revealed through the text, others are just fun riddles to take a couple of minutes out of reading to solve. You can download the puzzles from the author’s website here. The answers are included in the back of the book in case you get stumped. The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is a very entertaining story that keeps you guessing throughout. Eric Berlin does a wonderful job of blending the puzzles and riddles into the story for an interactive reading experience. If you want to solve more puzzles you can check out Winston’s puzzle blog here.

If you like this book or just enjoy reading mysteries you might also like these books:

The sequel to The Puzzling World of Winston Breen is The Potato chip Puzzles.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is another book with a puzzle for the reader to solve as they read the book.

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler  by E.L. Konigsburg are both great mysteries to read!

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Chasing Vermeer is a mystery book for grades 4th-8th. It has been described as The Da Vinci code for kids. The book starts off with a mysterious letter sent to three seemingly random people. The letter asks the receivers to help solve an old crime involving a famous painting called A Lady Writing A Letter by Johannes Vermeer.

The book follows sixth graders Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay. They are classmates and friends at the University School in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. The two sixth graders are a little different from the other kids at school. They are both very smart and enjoy puzzles and mental challenges. They are brought together through a series of strange coincidences involving an old book and several quirky characters. They combine their brain power and problem solving skills to figure out the mystery of a missing painting by one of the world’s most famous artists.

Chasing Vermeer is a fun read full of puzzles and mystery. The readers become part of the mystery through the author’s and illustrator’s use of secret codes and hidden messages. Blue Balliett introduces readers to pentominoes (a mathematical tool of geometry) as a clue to solve the mystery. Brett Helquist (who is also the illustrator of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events) includes a hidden message in his illustrations throughout the book. If you like mysteries that involve imaginative thinking and solving puzzles this may be a good book for you!

 There are two sequels to check out as well:


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