Out of the Wild Night by Blue Balliett Blue Balliett Pieces & Players Hold Fast by Blue Balliett The Danger Box by Blue Balliett The Calder Game by Blue Balliett The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Nantucket Ghosts by Blue Balliett Blue Balliett Contact Blue Balliett Bio Blue Balliett Events Blue Balliett Awards & Reviews Blue Balliett Foreign Editions Blue Balliett Teacher Info Blue Balliett News
Click the thumbnail images below to read awards and reviews for each book:
Out of the Wild Night by Blue Balliett
Spring 2018 Winter 2015 Winter 2013 Spring 2010 Spring 2008 Spring 2006 Spring 2004
Click here to watch interviews with Blue talking about writing & teaching.

Out of the Wild Night by Blue Balliett
Spring 2018
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  National Book Festival of the Library of Congress,
Great Reads from Great Places List, 2021
Illinois Reading Council’s
Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children, 2021
"In 'Out of the Wild Night,' Balliett has concocted her best novel yet, a story that blends deft wordplay, scintillating adventure, a provocative mystery, an emphatic plea for historic preservation — and a determined public relations campaign on behalf of ghosts."
- Chicago Tribune (Click here for the whole review.)
"Balliett outdoes herself here with this surprising story, set in a lovingly depicted present-day Nantucket… Modern themes and old-fashioned values in a ghostly Nantucket wonder, with a twist."
- Kirkus Reviews, starred

  "With bright, firm tones and stirring intensity, narrator Alison Edwards dives readily into Balliett’s haunting prose.  Her compassion and enthusiasm shine in her portrayals of the characters… Against the rich seaside of Nantucket, Edwards delivers this ghost story grounded in family, redemption and history, a love letter to a place and a way of life..."
- AudioFile Magazine

"Balliett whisks readers to the shores of Nantucket for a mystery swathed in history and ghosts… The island’s immigrant population and subsequent bouquet of cultures is frequently spotlighted, emphasizing that strength is born of diverse roots."
- Booklist


"A lyrical, suspenseful ghost story and a love letter to Nantucket… Plenty of spooky scenes punctuate the story and a surprising twist at the end will have readers flipping back through the pages to revisit the clues buried deep in Balliett’s nuanced descriptions."
-School Library Journal


"Balliett writes lovingly about (the island’s) rich history and… the shivery exploits of marauding ghosts… a twisty finale adds poignancy."
- Publishers Weekly

Pieces and Players by Blue Balliett
Winter 2015
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Junior Library Guild Selection, spring 2015

Agatha Award Short List, Best Children’s/YA

Great Lakes Great Reads Award Short List, 2015

“The plot may revolve around a mystery, but the heart of the book involves the mysterious human connection with great works of art. Balliett’s fans will particularly enjoy the conversations as her five young protagonists join forces.”
- Booklist (Click here for the whole review.)

“Balliett again deftly merges mystery, art and friendship into another perplexing puzzler. Brain-teasing adventure for thinking kids.” 
- Kirkus (Click here for the whole review.)

“Just enough drama and enigmas to solve… Fun and engaging; a fitting addition for readers addicted to these art mysteries.”
- School Library Journal (Click here for the whole review.)

Blue Balliett’s latest middle grade mystery is a Chicago-based charmer. Her characters are just the right combination of awkward and inspired, and their journey into the Chicago art world — complete with a visit to the Chicago Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza — is full of intriguing twists and turns… One of the pleasures of Pieces and Players is that it explores many gifts: the ability to make unlikely friends, to get adults to tell you their secrets, to connect with a work of art. Kids will find a lot to love in this tale teeming with art and ideas.
- Chicago Tribune


Winter 2013

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New York Times Bestseller
Editor’s Choice, Chicago Tribune, May 2013
Great Lakes Great Reads Award, Winter 2013
Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner 
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People selection, NCSS and CBC, 2014
Triple Crown Lamplighter Award nominee, 2014-15
Iowa Children’s Choice Award Master List, 2014-15
Alabama Camellia Children’s Choice Award nominee,
Nebraska Golden Sower Award Nominee, 2015-16
William Allen White Award Master List, 2015-16
International Schools of Korea Morning Calm Award Nominee, Elementary Chapter Book category, 2014-15

“A moving story… enthralling and satisfying.” (click here for full review)
-Kirkus, starred review
“Wonderful, will pierce all readers.”
-Booklist, starred review
"Balliett paints a vivid picture, a literary composition reminiscent of an Impressionist painting,.. This is an engaging mystery in which books are both the problem and the solution, and the author shows that the fight to hold fast to your dreams rewards those who persevere.  Excellent."
-School Library Journal, starred review
"This novel abounds in heart, shining a spotlight on the gritty truths about homelessness."
-Publishers Weekly

"In Hold Fast, a crucial subject is poetry and…moving depictions of the social safety net and life in a homeless shelter.  The shelter is an uneasy refuge… but the multifaceted Early Pearl, ever observant and always pondering, shines as bright as any diamond."
-Abby McGanney Nolan, The New York Times

"Do not underestimate the ability of a mystery story to lift and empower… Joining the ranks of the resourceful preteen heroes of Balliett's previous novels is 11-year-old Early Pearl, a whip-smart book-loving girl whose world is upended when her father, Dashel, who works at the Harold Washington Library, goes missing."
-Donald Liebenson, The Chicago Tribune

“Langston Hughes, an infamous diamond heist, the Chicago shelter system and a resilient 11-year-old girl with a remarkable name don’t suggest commonalities.  If you’re award-winning, best-selling author Blue Balliett, you take these unrelated ingredients, let them marinate in years of research and firsthand experience, imbue them with mystery and heart, and serve up Hold Fast.

It is first and foremost a great story crafted by a writer who really did find out absolutely everything she needed to discover.  Through her credible, touching representation of children in the shelter system, Balliett evokes sympathy for a far-from-fictionalized epidemic.  “Every community has this invisible, oddly neglected group of people who are struggling and trying to raise their kids without a home,” Balliett says.  “And I’m really hoping that Hold Fast will make this a more public situation that everybody can talk about more easily.”
-Gordon West, Kirkus Reviews

“Hold Fast is a sophisticated storyline that will keep you guessing to the end.  This is a brilliant and wonderfully written story.”
-Meridian Magazine

“The language used in telling this tale is brimming with realism.  Every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter is strung together artfully and with purpose.  Chapter headings are single words; ice, click, crash, cling, clutch, circle, crimp, crack, chase, catch, cover, cast, click and ice.  For careful readers these words become clues.

Beautiful descriptions of place, characters’ personalities and thoughts fill the pages of this story. Almost without being aware we watch, we listen, we dream, we think, we write and we plan…”
-Librarian’s Quest (librariansquest.blogspotcom)

“I am sketching out a list of ‘important juvenile fiction books and authors.’  This list is for those who place intimate conversations of a social and creative consciousness into the hands of young people.  Blue Balliett is located with indelible ink on this list.  With Hold Fast, Balliett has used her considerable gift to not only pen a compelling mystery, but to raise awareness for the plight of our homeless children.  She also returns with her signature take on the brilliance of young minds.  If you’re read Balliett, you understand how singular she is, and she just keeps getting better and better.”
-Omphaloskepsis (contemplatrix.wordpress.com)

"A captivating mystery…Balliett shows readers that shelters are full of people who need a dream to hold fast to, just like the rest of us."
-Book Page, Heather Brush, five stars  

“Balliett’s writing is imbued with rhythm, description and meaning – in a way that got right to my heart. 
-Goodreads.com, Mary Ann, five stars

“Blue Balliett is one of the best children’s authors writing today.  Her characters are always well developed and worthy of great admiration.  Books that make you look at your own life differently are the best, most lasting kind of reading, and Blue Balliett has given us the gift of Hold Fast to touch hearts and impact lives.”
-Goodreads.com, Kathy B. Reel, five stars

"Early's story is one of redemption and hope, a triumph of the human spirit in one shelter kid.  The book is a must read for those twelve and younger as the author's play with language and words creates a lyrical read."
-International Reading Association Online

“Balliett demonstrates her own love of words and wordplay throughout this novel.  Told in beautiful prose, she writes poetically about the city she loves, the beauty of snow, and the power of family.  Just reading this book will have readers seeing words in a new way…stellar.”
-Waking Brain Cells

"I hope that every library in the country can find room on the shelves for this book.  It feels like it belongs in the heart of so many readers: rich, poor, tall, short, black, white, from the Midwest, the Southwest…  Hold Fast is going to change lives.  It is going to make the world a better place."
-Sharpread (sharpread.wordpress.com)

“The quiet courage on display in this book is heartbreaking and insightful.  Blue Balliett deserves high praise for creating a great family of characters and treating their story – and the issue of homelessness – with such concern and respect.”
-Michael Nameche, The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

“An excellent depiction of the impact and emotions that homelessness engenders, in a story that reflects the resilience of our children.”
-Patricia Rivera, Chicago HOPES for Kids

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Fall 2010

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A Junior Library Guild selection, Fall 2010

Chicago Tribune's Chicagoan
of the Year for Literature, 2010

Parents' Choice Silver Award Winner

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award master list, 2011-12

Winner of Book Worm Angels' 2012
Kermit W. Myers Achievement Award

Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award
Masterlist for 2012-13

ABA Presents Books to President for White House Library

“With her newest, the bestselling author journeys outside the big city and into a small town with new characters and challenges that are a departure for Balliett but are as wondrously mystifying as her previous titles.”

“Like Balliett's earlier books, many of the characters and situations in ‘The Danger Box’ are real…and they add up to another imaginative and thought-provoking mystery — Balliett's preferred mode of storytelling and one that has returned accolades and bestsellers.”
-Los Angeles Times: click to read the article
Publishers Weekly click here to read the Q and A Interview

“A story laced with quiet intrigue… always thought-provoking… a great read.”
- Scripps Howard News Service

"Blue Balliett is a dangerous woman. If, however, you spot her strolling the streets near her Hyde Park home, do not call the Chicago Police Department or Homeland Security. Instead, call your kids. Sit them down with Balliett's four novels for young adults... Once they start reading these intricate, challenging -- and exhilaratingly fun -- stories about kids solving puzzles and getting to the bottom of vexing questions about art and science, they'll be transformed. There will be no stopping them."
- Chicago Tribune click to read article

“Balliett demonstrates how danger boxes are all around us–not just as containers of physical objects for which people will hazard a great deal, but as vehicles that expose us to risky ideas and dreams. This highly satisfying story will enlighten readers even as it inspires them to think about their own danger boxes.”
- School Library Journal, starred review

"Spine-tingling yet uplifting... an adventure that leaves no reader untouched.  One of the fascinating aspects of this novel is the parallel dramas playing out hundreds of years apart... Balliett has mastered a sophisticated theme in an unusual and engaging way.  Clever and effective..."
- Chicago Sun-Times

“Three Oaks, a tiny southwestern Michigan village… is the setting for Balliett’s new book, a compelling story… ‘Everybody who lives here loves this place,’ says Balliett, who has certainly done her bit in The Danger Box to make everybody else love it too.”
-The Chicago Tribune: click to read the article

“Local kids’ author Blue Balliett sets her newest mystery a stone’s throw – and a world away—from Chicago… ‘I just love… the thought that you can see your everyday world as being filled with surprises. That’s my message to kids: it’s how you see it. Never say never, keep your eyes and ears open.’”
-Time Out Chicago

“…The insightful first-person narration will definitely keep readers involved in this story, right down to the final secret-code letter and the author’s note.”

“An absolute joy… Every time I read another new book by Blue Balliett, I really do want to read more. The books are written in an incredibly smart and intelligent way to engross all readers from young to old.”

“Blue Balliett reminds me of E.L. Konigsburg. Both of them are unique and distinctive. Just as Konigsburg broke new ground in children’s fiction in the 1960s, I believe Balliett is doing the same today. Her books are like intricate puzzles, full of facts, intrigue, riddles, and truly unique characterizations. Some authors are good at delivering a plot or concept, some write amazing character pieces, but Balliett fires on all cylinders.”

"Blue Balliett has written an extraordinarily atmospheric story, with layers and layers to dig in to.  It's not just a mystery, or a story about a special boy.  It has friendship and family, history and loss... When I closed The Danger Box I was amazed at how Balliett could seamlessly weave all of the components..."

"The Danger Box wraps its mystery in Balliett's typically effective and unusual stylistic presentation... Balliett knits together the threads of the mystery -- and of her characters' personality quirks -- with her usual skill, and the fact that there is a very definite real-world element to this story makes the novel all the more effective.  It's certainly a worthy successor to Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game."

"Blue Balliett is a fascinating and inspiring woman, and her books are great...(She) has established herself as a truly original voice in Juvenile Fiction...Nothing historical is dry, nor is it unimportant.  Events hundreds of years past find connection in the present, and such value is significant to the story. The protagonists find validation in being unusual... Balliett is for curious minds; thinkers, observers, recorders.  That Balliett places her stories in real places with real mysteries is inspiring. I enjoyed everyone of Balliett's previous three novels. The Danger Box surpassed them all."

“As (The Danger Box) cover warns, ‘open with care’ and prepare to be wowed.”
-Children’s Literature online

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Short but sweet Interview, from the Illinois Reading Council Journal; Blue talks about all of her books, ghosts included.

Spring 2008

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Friends of American Writers Literary Award Winner
Publishers Weekly Bestseller
Indie Bound Bestseller

“This is a thriller that shouldn’t be missed.”
-Detroit Free Press

“An imaginative mystery adventure story that weaves together art, philosophy and great storytelling.”
Featured in ABC’s Good Morning America as a ‘Sizzling Summer Read’

“Acclaimed for her sophisticated juggling of art concepts, mystery, philosophy and storytelling, Balliett outdoes herself with this ambitious novel. Like its predecessors, it asks readers to consider big ideas, this time using the mobiles of Alexander Calder as a springboard.”
-Publishers Weekly

“This mystery is every bit as intricate, engaging, and delightful as Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3. Balliett’s wonderful writing is full of foreshadowing, literary allusions, wordplay, and figurative language… Helquist’s detailed illustrations enhance this multilayered story. Fans of the author’s previous novels are in for a treat.”
-School Library Journal

“Balliett masters the art of tickling kids’ brain cells… Full of puzzles, wordplay, dreamy layers of coincidence and art insights, Balliett’s books do draw older readers… But they speak most eloquently to kids between 8 and 12 who savor big ideas.”
-Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“The Calder Game is a winning combination of mystery, art education and quirky characters.”
-Parade, Summer Reading Pick

Newsweek web exclusive author interview

“Balliett offers a third book in the series, and it may be the best of the bunch… (She) does a marvelous job of crafting a text in which various story elements…connect with each other in unusual ways. In other words, Balliett herself is playing the Calder Game with her plot and she invites readers to play with her.”
-Scripps Howard News Service

“Balliett has a lot of fun riffing on the themes of change over time, shifting relationships, primary colors and the number five, all embodied in Alexander Calder’s fabulous mobiles.”
-Washington Post

The best-selling author of Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3 offers yet another fascinating, brilliantly plotted, art-related mystery, this time centering around the unique mobiles and sculpture of Alexander Calder… Balliett is a master at creating a sense of menace and thrilling suspense.”
-Chicago Magazine

“… A brilliant tie-in of art and being an adolescent… And even when the book is finished, there are many mobile projects remaining, with words and images. Fun, in depth.”
-Chicago Tribune

“Balliett’s mixture of art, math, history, and philosophy is definitely a winning one…”
-Christian Science Monitor

“Super-kid-sleuths Calder, Petra and Tommy are back in a third mystery surrounding renowned art pieces. Lots of twists and turns make this a great read, as were Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3.”
-Deseret News

“Balliett’s writing is fast-paced and highly inventive and encourages creative thinking…”
-Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“Balliett again offers readers new ways to think.”
-Booklist, starred review

“This is my favorite of the three art mystery books Blue Balliett has written… The Calder Game is packed, layered, balanced… Oh, the language!”
-A Year of Reading, online review

“The book works on many levels and never talks down to the audience. This is one of those works that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.”

“Another winner by the author of Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3! …The story is absorbing and fast-paced. The illustrations provide tantalizing opportunities for puzzle connoisseurs to decode a message. This is a wonderful series for children…”
-KBookwoman, blog review

“…The language is much richer than Balliett’s previous two works, and there’s still a sense of magical realism here that Balliett does so well… I’m a real fan of this series and wanted to savor every word. It paid off.”
-EricCanRead, librarian blog

“…A novel that will satisfy mystery fans as well as art lovers… The Calder Game is Blue Balliett’s best work of fiction yet and readers will be eager to see how this series continues to develop over time.”
Kidsreads.com, author Q & A

“Balliett’s first two art related mysteries… are favorites of mine, but I think this one is the best of the three.”
-Literate Lives, online blog

“As always, Blue Balliett has created an intricately woven story which takes art, mystery, and friendship and turns it into one heck of a book.”
-www.teenreadstoo.com, 5-star review

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Spring 2006

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Chicago Public Library 21st Century Award Winner
Great Lakes Book Award Finalist
Gamepuzzles Annual Excellence Award
New York Times Bestseller
USA Today Bestseller
Book Sense Bestseller
Child Magazine Best Book of the Year

“Bottom line: Blue Balliett is a big success.”
-Chicago Sun-Times

“Another tour de force blending art, math, philosophy, history and literature.”
-Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A worthy follow-up (that) provides a wonderful opportunity for young readers to think about buildings as art.”
-Voice of Young Advocates

“Those who enjoyed the first adventure will be quickly drawn in once more by the charmingly subversive Ms. Hussey… a sophisticated subject spiced by puzzles, codes, and a soupcon of danger.”
-Publishers Weekly

“I liked The Wright 3 for…its inspirational plot, as it shows that individuals can make a difference – even if they are kids!”
-Stone Soup Magazine, review by 10-year-old

“Balliett has woven intelligent mathematics, art concepts and projected red herrings to keep the reader turning the pages all the way to the end. This story is so well devised that the angles, positions and layout of all that the kids explore will become fascinating as the reader learns more than just how to save this house. The brilliant way this story is written is reminiscent of one of the bet authors in children’s writing: E. L. Konigsburg. The illustrations by Brett Helquist are amazing… “
-Columbia Daily Tribune

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Spring 2004

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New York Times Bestseller for over 30 weeks
New York Times Notable Book for 2004
Publishers Weekly Bestseller
Book Sense Book of the Year Award Winner
Book Sense Bestseller
Edgar Award, Mystery Writers of America, Best Juvenile Fiction
Agatha Award Winner
Chicago Tribune Prize for Young Adult Fiction
Great Lakes Book Award Winner
Booklist Top Ten Youth Mysteries
Booklist Editor’s Choice
Borders Original Voices Award
Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award for Children’s Literature
Finalist for the 49th Bancarellino Prize, Italy
Finalist for the Sheffield Children’s Book Award, U.K., 2006
Child Magazine Best Children’s Book
Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Book
A Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee
Al’s Book Club for Kids Selection, NBC Today Show, 2008

“Suspenseful, exciting, charming and even unexpectedly moving.”
-The New York Times Book Review

“A Da Vinci Code for tweens.”

“Balliett is an original… Thick with devilish red herrings, this smart, playful story never stops challenging (and exhilarating) the audience.”
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Puzzles, codes, letters, number- and word-play, a bit of danger, a vivid sense of place, and a wealth of quirky characters enrich the exciting, fast-paced story that’s sure to be relished by mystery lovers.”
-School Library Journal

“Couples the puzzle-loving intricacy of The Westing Game with the museum-mystery compulsion of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”
-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

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