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The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett Supersleuths Petra and Calder, along with Calder's old friend, Tommy, have been cryptically drawn into another mystery - this time involving a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural masterpiece, the Robie House.

When the kids’ sixth-grade class attempts to save the Hyde Park landmark from demolition, eerie events are reported: disembodied voices, shadows that shift, a roof that moves. Suddenly a well-meaning art restoration project turns into a frightening search for ghosts, hidden treasure, and a coded message left behind by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In this tangled web where life and art intermingle with death and danger, can the kids pursue justice and escape with their lives?

 
The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett at 57th Street Books The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett at Amazon.com The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett at Barnes and Noble The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett at IndieBound

EXCERPT: Chapter One
On the morning of June 3, the mason climbed carefully to the highest level of the roof . . . I’m young and alive and almost invisible up in the trees, he found himself thinking, and then shook his head at such a strange idea . . .

At that moment he lost his footing. Startled, he flung his arms out for balance. Had he been standing on a loose tile? Was this an earthquake? He listened for car alarms, but the street below him was quiet. There was a second, longer shudder, and he thought he saw the roof itself rippling toward him in quick, irregular lines. The building seemed to have come alive, twitching in the irritable way an animal does when it wants to get rid of a fly. The mason staggered to the left. Muttering “What the -- ,” he stumbled back to the right and sank to his knees.

His fall was sudden, a whirl of blue and branches and panic . . .

In the seconds before his vision melted into blackness, he thought he heard a high voice, the shrill command of a child, but he couldn’t quite make out the words. Was it “Stay away!” or “Stay and play!”?

Behind the Scenes:
The Wright 3 was written because Calder and Petra were still talking to me long after Chasing Vermeer was finished. As I walked around my neighborhood thinking about whether to write another book with these characters and what fun it would be to have Tommy jump in, the Robie House seemed to sparkle and twinkle whenever I passed by. I stopped to look more closely… and the rest is history.

As he did for Chasing Vermeer, Brett hid a coded message in these illustrations. He also revisited Hyde Park in order to get a feeling for the Robie House, which he loved instantly. He told me with a grin that he would’ve loved growing up there; almost all windows lead to roofs or balconies, and many of the walls have flat tops for climbing.


This is a piece of real and very ancient art that found its way into fiction: in the book, it’s the dragon-fish that Tommy digs up in a certain Wright garden. I’ve only seen it through glass; this amazing jade creature actually lives in a display case at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Again, it all happens in my neighborhood of Hyde Park. The Robie House is only a block from the Laboratory Schools, and five minutes away from the scrumptious Medici Bakery, where I buy our bread every week.