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The Calder Game by Blue Balliett When Calder Pillay travels with his father to a remote village in England, he finds mazes and mystery... and an unexpected Alexander Calder sculpture in the Town Square. Calder is drawn to the sculpture, but others have less-than-friendly feelings toward it... and on the same night, both the boy and the sculpture disappear!

Calder’s friends Petra and Tommy fly to England to help his father find him. But this mystery has more twists and turns than anyone suspects...
with more at stake than first meets the eye.

 
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EXCERPT: Chapter One
The setting is a very old town in England. It is dawn, a pale October dawn that pours through the streets like cream, erasing line and dissolving shadow. Red ivy stirs against the damp stone; the houses are stone, the walls are stone, the street is stone. A lace curtain has escaped through an open window and waves unseen in the early light. Now a black cat blinks, stretches and slowly crosses the empty square, stepping carefully around a raised sign that reads, MINOTAUR, ALEXANDER CALDER, 1959.

Someone sneezes behind closed shutters. A light goes on in the kitchen and a man in plaid pajamas fills a brass kettle. In other houses, butter sizzles and silverware clinks. The first truck of the day rattles across cobblestones and comes to a sudden stop. The driver sits for a moment looking straight ahead, his mouth open, then hops out and hurries to a nearby door. He bangs the knocker twice, sticks his head in, and shouts, “It’s gone!  The sculpture is gone!”

Soon enough, the town realizes that a boy is also gone.

 

Behind the Scenes:
The Calder Game started at the end of a 2005 book tour in England.  I saw an empty town square in the 1,000 year-old village of Woodstock.  For some crazy reason I found myself imagining what might happen if someone gave a large, red Alexander Calder sculpture to the town, to be placed in the middle of that time-honored square.  Would residents hate it?  I couldn’t stop wondering.  Sometimes where you see art has a lot to do with how you see it.

As in Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3, Brett Helquist’s amazing illustrations hide, in his own code, a message.  All of his paintings for the book are filled with real places and details.

Market Place in Woodstock where the Calder sculpture mysteriously appeared -- and disappeared --
in The Calder Game.

Explore around Woodstock by changing the scale of the map with the +/- zipper or grabbing the map and dragging it north, south, east, or west. See if you can find the Maze. (Hint: its about 4,000 feet south-southeast (SSE) of the square; zoom out, move, and then zoom in on it.)

I’m holding a treasure I found under a stone next to an eighteenth century house in the town of Nantucket.  This happened one summer during college -- I was living in a boarding house on the island and waitressing.  At first I thought it was a flattened bottle cap, it was so worn and dirty.  It’s a 1752 British shilling, and I’m afraid I drilled a little hole in it and wore it around my neck for years.  Then Tommy found it and put it to good use.

I’m holding a treasure I found under a stone next to an eighteenth century house in the town of Nantucket. 
This happened one summer during college -- I was living in a boarding house on the island and waitressing. At first I thought it was a flattened bottle cap, it was so worn and dirty. It’s a 1752 British shilling, and I’m afraid I drilled a little hole in it and wore it around my neck for years. Then Tommy found it and put it to good use.
It begins in Hyde Park, with a scene also at the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art.  Then the action moves to Woodstock, in England, and to a huge park right next to the town, one that surrounds nearby Blenheim Palace.  While researching the book, I ate many Cadbury chocolate bars and got lost in a number of exhausting hedge mazes.  Research is a great excuse for adventure.