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"Chasing Vermeer is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery, disguised as an adventure, and delivered as a work of art."

If you like a good book filled with wacky characters you will enjoy Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett. The book is illustrated by Brett Helquist who also illustrated A Series of Unfortunate Events.  The illustrations hold clues to solving the mystery.

If you liked Chasing Vermeer, you will also like...

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E.Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The Unseen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Lady Grade Mysteries by Lady Grace Cavendish
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

Chasing Vermeer Homepage

Math Connection
Calder carries around a set of Pentominoes and even dresses like an “F” for Halloween.  Use the Internet to learn more about pentominoes.  You can also play pentominoes online!!

Pentominos 1 LiveCube
Pentominos 2 Fun Pentomino Shapes
Pentominos 3 Pentomino Challenges
Chasing Vermeer Puzzles  

History Connection
 (2) Petra was named after a famous city. Visit Petra: City of Stone at the Natural History Museum in NYC. http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/petra/  Be ready to discuss what you have learned. You can find some related sources on the web to go along with the site. Click here. Glance over these activities and plan to do one at home to share with the class.

Visit the site of the archeologists that are uncovering Petra: The Great Temple

(3) Historical Letters There are many letters mentioned in Chasing Vermeer. Read the famous letters, print one of them in its original format.

Letter to George III 1765
Letters Between Meriwether Lewis and Thomas Jefferson 1803
Letter from Fidel Castro as a young boy 1940
President Lincoln to Senate 1964
Letter from the Civil War 1865
Letters from the Prairie 1870
Beatrix Potter's Picture Letters 1893
Mrs. Roosevelt to D.A.R. 1939

Albert Einstein's Letters to President Roosevelt 1939
Letters from WWII 1942

Letter from Jackie Robinson 1950
President Roosevelt's Letters to his Children
Fred-Ted Letter 1890
Alexander Graham Bell's Letter to Children 1887
Elvis to President Nixon 1970
President Nixon's Resignation Letter 1974

Writing Connection

(4) Ms. Hussey talked to her students about letters.  Take a look at some of the letters below.  Write a letter to your parents about Chasing Vermeer.  Explain what has happened so far and tell them what you think of the book.  You can include any questions that might be forming in your mind. You can use the site below to write your letter.

Letter Generator http://readwritethink.org/

Literature Connection
(5) Petra found a book in the giveaway bin. She read a few paragraphs and noticed that the author discussed the raining of creatures from the sky (page 42).  She notices the author is Charles Fort and the book is called Lo! You can find the Lo! on the Internet but it is very hard to decipher.  Read the article Raining Cats and Dogs and Fish and Frogs…to find out more about this weird phenomenon. http://www.wormwoodchronicles.com

Art Connection
(6) While looking for something Calder thought might be art, he uncovered a box his grandmother had given him.  On the front of the box was a famous painting by Vermeer called The Geographer. You will visit two websites to learn more about this painting.  Be ready to discuss what you have learned.

http://www.mystudios.com/vermeer/27/vermeer-geographer.html ,


(7) Calder was thinking about The Geographer (page 73) and he learned about Vermeer’s life.  Go to this site and choose the section Vermeer's Life.  Be ready to discuss Vermeer's life.

(8) Petra’s Halloween costume came from one of Vermeer’s painting called A Lady Writing. She later found out that the painting had been stolen in transit.  Do an interactive analysis of this painting at this site. http://essentialvermeer.20m.com/catalogue/

Art Mysteries
(9) Ms. Hussey was talking to her class and mentioned the 1990 art theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston. Go to this website and hear an interview with the producer of a new documentary called Stolen: The Search for the Lost Vermeer.

The Theft of the Mona Lisa

(10) Some people think Vermeer used a “camera obscura” Use the sites below to learn about this camera and decide for yourself whether you think Vermeer used a camera obscura.

Big Question
(11) In the letter (page 108), the art thief says that only 26 of the works attributed to Vermeer are actually his.  He goes on to say the “real” Vermeers were done between 1656 and 1669.  Take a look at all the Vermeers and decide why you think the thief thought that. http://essentialvermeer.20m.com/

A Real life Mystery

A Treasure's Trove

Some students are reading Michael Stadther's book, A Treasure's Trove. Readers decipher clues with in the words and illustrations in the book.  These clues lead to jeweled brooches "In order to claim a jewel, one must find one of the twelve 18K gold tokens, each one redeemable for one jewel, that Stadther has hidden in twelve separate locations throughout the continental USA.  "The tokens are not located in caves or underwater, or on mountaintops, or on private property. Nothing has to be moved or lifted to find them. They are hidden in places accessible to everyone," Stadther says."


Below find related links to this mystery!

Treasure's Trove Homepage

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On this website you will find all kinds of activities to do while we are reading Chasing Vermeer.  Notice that the activities are numbered and you will be asked to do different activities on different days.

You can also further explore mysteries as you take a look at science mysteries, art mysteries, and history mysteries.

Comprehensive list to use in your project
 Unsolved Mysteries

History Mysteries
Amelia Earhart 
Easter Island
Easter Island
King Tut's Curse
Mystery of the Black Death
Roanoke: The Lost Colony
Mysteries of Çatalhöyük
The Shroud of Turin
Japanese Pyramids
Mysteries of the Nile

Salem Witch Trials (see list above)
Roswell/Area 51 (see list above)

Science Mysteries
Online Science Mysteries
Crop Circles
Mysteries of Deep Space
Loch Ness Monster
The Lost City of Atlantis
Tour the Bermuda Triangle
Monsters of Mystery
Medical Mysteries

TUNGUSKA: The Cosmic Mystery of the Century
SETI Institute
Marfa Lights
Creature Feature
Bermuda Triangle (see list above)
Egyptian Pyramids (see list above)
Black Holes (see list above)
Jersey Devil (see list above)

Vermeer on the Web
Essential Vermeer http://www.essentialvermeer.com/
About Johannes Vermeer Art http://www.about-vermeer-art.com/
Vermeer--The Complete Works http://www.mystudios.com/vermeer/

Mysteries on the Web
Kid's Mysteries
Two Minute Mysteries
Unexplained Mysteries
Fin, Fur and Feather Bureau of Investigation
Museum of Unnatural Mystery

Sherlock Holmes http://www.sherlockian.net/
Read Sherlock Holmes http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/
Agatha Christie http://www.agathachristie.com/
Nancy Drew http://nancy-drew.mysterynet.com/
Hardy Boys http://www.bayportgazette.com/

FBI for Kids
Who Dunnit?

Crime Lab

Famous Fakes

What is Art?

(12) One of the things Ms. Hussey wanted her students to think about it "what is art"?  Today you are going to take a look at the work of different artists and determine whether you think what they do is "art". Before you start looking at the art read this article What is Art? and open this Word document.


Art Cars
Harrod Blank Art Cars
Art Cars in Cyberspace

If you would like to design an art car using Microsoft Paint open this image. Right click on the image and and click COPY.  Find Microsoft Paint under PROGRAMS and choose ACCESSORIES and choose MICROSOFT PAINT. Choose EDIT and PASTE the car into Paint.  Once the car is open in Paint use the program to rotate the car.  After you finish your designing you will need to save the image as a GIF or a JPEG, do not save it as a Paint image.  After the image is saved open a Word document and INSERT you picture.  Send to the color printer.

Anamorphic Art
The Art of Anamorphosis
Anamorphic Art

The Ambassadors by Holbein is one of the most famous examples of Anamorphosis. To learn more about the scientific instruments in this painting go here.

Complete the online lesson (do not use this link) about The Ambassadors. You will need to open this Word document.  To do this right click on this link; save the document on your "H" drive.  When you are prompted to open--click on that. Fill in as many answers as you can.

The Well by István Orosz
Mysterious Island

The Anamorphic Art of Kelly Houle

Ambiguous Art
Amazing Art

Hidden Images
Amazing Art

How to See in 3D (without the glasses!)
Hidden Nature Paintings

Impossible Images
Amazing Art

Optical Illusions

Click here to see a PowerPoint of Ambiguous Art, Hidden Art, Impossible Art , Mysterious Art, trompe l'oeil, Anamorphic Art  (permission for use pending)

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Last update 12/17/07 08:44 AM
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