Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Calder Game by Blue Baillett

It's been quite a while since I read the other books in this series. This one seemed uneven in it's writing compared to the first two though. Once again, Calder, Petra, and Tommy are off on an adventure that involves art and history. This time, they travel across the ocean to England.

Very early on, we learn that Calder is in trouble. That he has disappeared from the town where he was staying in England. Baillett's writing about the disappearance often comes across as overly dramatic and unnecessarily graphic. No reader would believe for an instant that Calder is anything but alive. So it seems very out of place to have the characters constantly thinking about death, blood, and murder. I found myself skimming quite a bit either to skip passages like that or to rush past all the word games that Baillett tries to play. She seems to be forcing meaning into words that don't belong.

Baillett's strongest writing occurs when she is describing the art work in the book. The Calder exhibit at the Chicago museum is the best part of the book. The excitement and vividness that she captures in this section make you believe the rest of the book will be as fun to read. Unfortunately, that chapter occurs at the beginning of the story and the writing never matches that level again.

Baillett would do well to focus her next effort on more of the artwork, less of the danger and word-play. She also needs to focus on the relationship between Tommy and Petra and Mrs. Sharpe and the children, for it is here that her writing is stronger.

All in all, not a bad read, but disappointing consider the hype with which the first book in the series was received.

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