Literacy activities: Chasing Vermeer

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By Huw Thomas — headteacher and writer

Immerse your class in the mysterious disappearance of a masterpiece and put their detective skills to the test

Chasing Vermeer

‘A Da Vinci Code for kids’ is the claim one review makes of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer (Newsweek), and in terms of thrill and suspense – they couldn’t be more spot on. Chasing Vermeer (Chicken House, £5.99 PB) sees kooky classmates, Petra and Calder, caught up in a mystery that involves the theft of a famous Vermeer painting from the National Gallery of Art in Washington. To solve the mystery of the missing masterpiece, the two children have to crack numerous puzzles, as they follow a trail dogged by a variety of suspicious characters and eerily coincidental events.

You don’t read Chasing Vermeer, you join in. The novel is interwoven with codes, puzzles and brainteasers that persuade the reader to stop and join in with the mystery. It provides a great opportunity for children to discover just how much a mystery book can draw its readers into the puzzle it sets.


  1. The letter you’ll never forget
  2. Pentominoes and puzzles
  3. Picture clues
  4. Codes to crack
  5. Mystery notes
  6. Learning to see
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