Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Blue Balliett  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Young Adult; Children;

Born: 1955 in New York City, New York

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-- Blue Balliett on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Balliett lives in Chicago's Hyde Park.

Biographical and Professional Information

Blue Balliett taught third grade at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools before becoming a full-time writer. A New York Times bestselling author, she wrote the award-winning children's novel ''Chasing Vermeer'' of which, Warner Brothers has acquired the film rights. Her books have been published in 34 languages.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Ghosts of Nantucket: 23 True Accounts
ISBN: 089272191X

Down East Books. 1993

Nantucket residents describe their firsthand encounters with paranormal phenomena in this unusual (and bestselling) book. Their accounts are both surprising and entertaining, for Nantucket's ghosts are as individualistic as today's flesh-and-blood inhabitants.

Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic Gold)
ISBN: 0439372976

Scholastic Paperbacks. 2005

Chasing Vermeer joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!

When a book of unexplainable occurences brings Petra and Calder together, strange things start to happen: Seemingly unrelated events connect an eccentric old woman seeks their company an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has stumped even the FBI?

Nantucket Ghosts
ISBN: 0892727179

Down East Books. 2006

Nantucket Island has just more than 10,000 year-round residents ― and a sizeable population of very real ghosts. The 44 tales in this book were collected as oral history. Some of these spirits are benign, even protective others terrorize the humans who encounter them. All are memorable.

The Wright 3
ISBN: 0439693683

Scholastic Paperbacks. 2007

From the New York Times-bestselling team behind Chasing Vermeer comes another thought-provoking art mystery featuring Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie house--now in After Words paperback!

Spring semester at the Lab School in Hyde Park finds Petra and Calder drawn into another mystery when unexplainable accidents and ghostly happenings throw a spotlight on Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, and it's up to the two junior sleuths to piece together the clues. Stir in the return of Calder's friend Tommy (which creates a tense triangle), H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man, 3-D pentominoes, and the hunt for a coded message left behind by Wright, and the kids become tangled in a dangerous web in which life and art intermingle with death, deception, and surprise.

The Calder Game
ISBN: 0439852072

Scholastic Press. 2008

Petra, Calder, and Tommy, the sleuths at the center of the amazing CHASING VERMEER and THE WRIGHT 3, are back with a labyrinthine new mystery to solve.

When Calder Pillay travels with his father to a remote village in England, he finds a mix of mazes and mystery . . . including an unexpected Alexander Calder sculpture in the town square. Calder is strangely drawn to the sculpture, while other people have less-than-friendly feelings towards it. Both the boy and the sculpture seem to be out of place . . . and then, on the same night, they disappear! Calder's friends Petra and Tommy must fly out to help his father find him. But this mystery has more twists and turns than a Calder mobile . . . with more at stake than first meets the eye.

The Danger Box
ISBN: 0439852099

Scholastic Press. 2010

An all-new mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Chasing Vermeer and The Calder Game.

A boy in a small town who has a different way of seeing.
A mischievous girl who doesn't belong.
A mysterious notebook .
A fire.
A stranger.
A death.

These are some of the things you'll find within The Danger Box, the new mystery from bestselling author Blue Balliett.

Hold Fast
ISBN: 0545299888

Scholastic Press. 2013

From NYT bestselling author Blue Balliett, the story of a girl who falls into Chicago's shelter system, and from there must solve the mystery of her father's strange disappearance.

Where is Early's father? He's not the kind of father who would disappear. But he's gone . . . and he's left a whole lot of trouble behind.

As danger closes in, Early, her mom, and her brother have to flee their apartment. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to move into a city shelter. Once there, Early starts asking questions and looking for answers. Because her father hasn't disappeared without a trace. There are patterns and rhythms to what's happened, and Early might be the only one who can use them to track him down and make her way out of a very tough place.

With her signature, singular love of language and sense of mystery, Blue Balliett weaves a story that takes readers from the cold, snowy Chicago streets to the darkest corner of the public library, on an unforgettable hunt for deep truths and a reunited family.

Pieces and Players
ISBN: 054529990X

Scholastic Press. 2015

From the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of CHASING VERMEER, THE WRIGHT 3, and HOLD FAST


Thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world. A Vermeer has vanished. A Degas has disappeared. And nobody has any idea where they and the other eleven artworks might be . . . or who might have stolen them.


Calder, Petra, and Tommy are no strangers to heists and puzzles. Now they've been matched with two new sleuths -- Zoomy, a very thin boy with very thick glasses, and Early, a girl who treasures words . . . and has a word or two to say about the missing treasure.

The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it's not just Mrs. Sharpe who's acting suspiciously -- there's a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up.

With pieces and players, you have all the ingredients for a fantastic mystery from the amazing Blue Balliett.

Out of the Wild Night
ISBN: 0545867568

Scholastic Press. 2018

Ghosts are alive on the island of Nantucket. You can hear them in the wind and in the creaks of the old homes. They want to be remembered. And, even more, they want to protect what was once theirs.

The ghosts have chosen a few local kids to save the island against the adults who would do it harm. But the kids can't be sure how the ghosts are going to act. Things tend to disappear when ghosts are around. People tend to get trapped - especially if they're up to no good. Only the kids can make things right . . . if the ghosts will let them.

Out of the Wild Night is master storyteller Blue Balliett at her spooky best, a spellbinding tale about the haunted residents of a very special place.


Chasing Vermeer

  • New York Times Notable Book, 2004 - NYT Bestseller for over 30 weeks
  • Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award, American Booksellers Association
  • Book Sense Bestseller
  • Edgar Allen Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, Best Juvenile Novel
  • Agatha Award
  • The Great Lakes Book Award
  • Chicago Tribune Prize for Young Adult Fiction, 2004
  • Booklist Top Ten Youth Mysteries
  • Booklist Editor’s Choice
  • Borders Original Voices Award
  • Midwest Booksellers’ Choice Award for Children’s Literature
  • Child Magazine Best Children’s Book
  • Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Book
  • Al’s Book Club for Kids Selection, NBC Today Show, 2008
  • Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly and Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
  • The Wright 3

  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Best Children's Book of the Year, Child Magazine
  • 21st Century Award, Chicago Public Library - First time the award was given to a children's book author
  • Gamepuzzles Annual Excellence Award
  • USA Today Bestseller
  • Book Sense Bestseller
  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • The Calder Game

  • Friends of American Writers Literary Award Winner
  • Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • Indie Bound Bestseller
  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • Five Star Review,
  • Danger Box

  • 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
  • Book Worm Angels, 2012
  • Kermit W. Myers Achievement Award
  • Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Masterlist, 2012-13
  • Starred Review, School Library Journal
  • 2013 ILLINOIS READS Book
  • Hold Fast

  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Editor’s Choice, Chicago Tribune, May 2013
  • Great Lakes Great Reads Award, Winter 2013
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People selection, NCSS and CBC, 2014
  • Iowa Children’s Choice Award Master List, 2014-15
  • William Allen White Award Master List, 2015-16
  • Starred Review, Kirkus, Booklist and School Library Journal
  • 2016 ILLINOIS READS Book
  • Pieces and Players

  • Junior Library Guild Selection, spring 2015
  • Great Lakes Great Reads Award Short List, 2015

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (No)