Chasing Vermeer Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been part of the whirlwind world of teaching middle school for 20 years. She has a Master of Education degree in instructional design.

'Chasing Vermeer' by Blue Balliett takes readers on a mystery solving journey to retrieve a valuable piece of stolen artwork. Use these discussion questions with your middle school students to explore the characters, plot, and themes of the novel.

Chasing Vermeer Discussion Questions

The following discussion questions will help you inspire critical thinking skills in your middle school students. Through an exploration of plot, characters, and themes, these questions will help you challenge students to look beneath the surface of the novel to find meaning. Additionally, you can utilize these questions in teams, partners, or as a whole class. After the discussion is complete, you may also want to select a couple of questions for students to answer in writing as a formative assessment. These questions are designed to be used after students have read the novel.

Questions about Characters

  • Ms. Sharpe, Ms. Hussey, and Mr. Watch were the three recipients of the anonymous letter asking them to solve the mystery of the stolen painting. Why do you think each of these characters was chosen to receive the letter? How did each of them respond to the letter? Do you agree or disagree with their responses? How would you respond if you were the recipient of this letter?
  • Calder and Petra take on this mystery and launch into solving it. Why are they so invested in finding the Vermeer painting? Do you think they would feel the same way if it was a different artist or a different painting that went missing? Why or why not?
  • Tommy is also part of the mystery solving team, even from a distance. How does he help solve the crime and find the painting? Do you think the novel would change if he were physically with Petra and Calder as they chased the painting's whereabouts? Why or why not?

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