The Calder Game

by Blue Balliett

Hardcover, 2008



Local notes

Fic Bal






Scholastic Press, 379 pages (2008). $17.99 (Nov 2017).


When seventh-grader Calder Pillay disappears from a remote English village--along with an Alexander Calder sculpture to which he has felt strangely drawn--his friends Petra and Tommy fly from Chicago to help his father find him.

Original publication date


Physical description

379 p.; 8.3 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member MAINEiac4434
The unfortunate things for this series, is that the same kids keep getting caught up in international conspiracies, which is something that would never, ever, happen in real life. Knowing that, it takes away from the overall effect of The Calder Game. It's a strong story, but the fact that these
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same kids keep getting involved in this stuff makes the book seem less real.
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LibraryThing member ConanTheLibr
This is the third book by this author - many of my students love these books. I guess it grew on me as I went along... as an adult, I feel the author strains a little too hard to get across the info about the artist, giving the books a didactic feel at times. The three kids are not tremendously
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complex characters, and the mystery element is there, but not especially compelling. I really want to love these books, but they leave me a little lukewarm. I do love Helquist's illustrations.
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LibraryThing member stephaniechase
The third time is not the charm for teen whizzes, friends, and occasional sleuths Calder, Petra, and Tommy, introduced in Vermeer Chase and The Wright 3. Two Calders go missing: are the missing boy and the missing sculpture connected? The Calder Game seeks to provide the reader a new way to view
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the world through Alexander Calder-esque models and drawings, but instead suffers from shoving too much the reader’s way: unhappy seventh graders, a nasty teacher, a thrilling exhibit of Calder’s work, a trip to England, a secret benefactor, Blenheim Palace, a possible kidnapping, possible stolen art… In seeking to balance the many elements, author Blue Balliett instead creates a novel where the connections feel strained, the emotions and mystery forced, and the story and character development mostly improbable. Fortunately, the book has some successes: a passionate description of the work of Alexander Calder, and the sharp, immediately recognizable illustrations of Brett Helquist, known best for Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. The reader can only hope Balliett can return to her earlier success with the fourth adventure clearly hinted here. Reminiscent of old children’s mysteries, where the danger is not real and the teens stumble upon the answer to the puzzle.
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LibraryThing member juliepickett
The third book by Blue Balliet starring Petra, Calder, and Tommy off on another art adventure -- this time featuring the mobiles and sculptures of Alexander Calder. What happens to young Calder when he unwittingly becomes involved in a small British town's dispute over an unwanted sculpture of a
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minotaur and they both suddenly disappear? Who is Banksie, the mysterious graffiti artist who no one has ever seen? Read this exciting mystery and find out!
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LibraryThing member librariankristin
In this third installment Balliett's Petra & Calder books, Calder travels to a small village in England with his father where an Alexander Calder stabile is causing a great deal of controversy. When Calder disappears, Tommy and Petra travel to England to help find him. As in the previous titles,
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much intriguing art history information as well as a coded message in Brett Helquist's illustrations are included.
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LibraryThing member rfewell
I don't think it was as good as the Wright 3, but I enjoy these smart 7th graders and their adventures.
LibraryThing member connlibrary
Petra and Tommy team up for this mystery. This time they are looking for two Calder’s. . . .the artwork and Calder himself. Artist Alexander Calder’s Minotaur and the young Calder are discovered missing in the same day. Are the two connected? Will Petra and Tommy make it through this adventure
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unscathed? Will they find Calder before it’s too late?

As with “Chasing Vermeer” and “The Wright 3,” Balliet does a fabulous job creating a plot that keeps you guessing the whole time. She also has the remarkable ability to get the reader interested in and excited about art. Balliet’s latest work is a worthy read for any juvenile or young adult reader. It is suitable for public and school libraries.
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LibraryThing member callmecayce
A fun, well written and engagingly read young adult/juvenile mystery set in both Chicago and a small town in England. The story revolves are three friends: Calder, Tommy and Petra. After visiting an Alexander Calder exhibit in Chicago, the three friends find themselves enamored with mobiles, but
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little do they know how important Alexander Calder will be. Calder, named after the artist, and his father take a trip to England and while there, Calder ends up disappearing. Fearing a kidnapping, or something even more sinister, Calder's father calls the two people who know him best, Tommy and Petra. The two friends must, with the help (and hindrances) of the adults in their lives, try to find Calder before it's too late. Balliett's novel is entertaining and Deirdre Lovejoy does a magnificent job bringing each of the characters to life. The audio book makes any long car trip go by in a flash.
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LibraryThing member mmpvppl
Great story. Slightly unbelievable to me that such young kids could fare so well alone in a foreign country. I really enjoyed learning about Alexander Calder, although, I wasn't real clear on the whole puzzle thing. I think some kids would really like that, though. I wouldn't suggest to a younger
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child due to the fact that the boy is kidnapped and it might be seen as slightly scary.
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LibraryThing member KarenBall
Awesome mystery! Lots of twists and turns in this one, which is third in the mysteries series. It made me want to find out all about Alexander Calder and his art! Calder Pillay accompanies his father to England, where his father is attending a conference in Oxford. They stay at a tiny
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bed-and-breakfast in Woodstock, just outside of Oxford. The village has received an anonymous gift of a large Alexander Calder sculpture, which has been placed in the town square. Calder (the boy) is fascinated by the red sculpture, titled "Minotaur" but the residents of the village are generally displeased with the gift and they complain about it. Because his name is the same as the sculptor, and because he is an American and an outsider, Calder is also shunned by the people as he wanders around exploring the town's castle, gardens, and giant maze. One night, Calder doesn't come back to the inn as expected, and the same night the sculpture disappears also. Calder's friends Petra and Tommy, supervised by the intrepid Mrs. Sharpe, fly out to help find Calder when his mother falls accidentally and cannot make the trip. Where is Calder, and where is the sculpture, and are the two disappearances related? Lots of puzzles! For 6th grade and up.
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LibraryThing member agrudzien
After visiting a special display of Alexander Calder's works with his class, Calder Pillay travels to a small town in England where he finds another one of Calder's art pieces. One evening, both Calder and the statue go missing and the town attempts to put together the few clues they have to figure
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out if the two Cadlers have dissappeared together or separately. To help solve the mystery, Calder's friends Tommy and Petra join his dad in England and do some sleuthing of their own.

I think this one was my favorite of the series. I am not familiar with the work of Alexander Calder, but I found the ideas so fascinating that I had to find some images of his mobiles. The growth of the characters was very welcome and seemed to round out the books well. After the angsty pre-teen friendship issues in The Wright 3, I was hesitant to read this next installment, but am very happy I did! This one is definitely darker than the others - foul play is suspected and talked about quite a bit in boy Calder's disappearance.
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LibraryThing member Kate_Schulte078
This book would be good to use when talking about mysteries and puzzles. It would be good for students who are interested in mysteries, puzzles and England.
LibraryThing member lkmuir
When seventh-grader Calder Pillay disappears from a remote English village--along with an Alexander Calder sculpture to which he has felt strangely drawn--his friends Petra and Tommy fly from Chicago to help his father find him.
LibraryThing member kizzie123
Very very good.
LibraryThing member Auntie-Nanuuq
I liked the first two books in the series, the mysteries contained therein were better thought out and had a much better flow.

It seemed as the author was at a loss and this story not only seemed a bit more difficult to follow, but the clues and the characters felt a bit limp...

The art history angle
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of the books is a good way to mix non-fiction with fiction and might lead a child who is reading this series into exploring great artists.
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½ (171 ratings; 3.9)
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