When I was teaching grade 6 a few years ago, I read the class a book about three grade 6 students who were involved in a mystery concerning a Vermeer painting, Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliott. This, I felt as a teacher, had a great mix to it: it involved artwork that could capture the students’ imaginations, it had a mystery (which always appeals to me), it was about students they could relate to, and it took place in a real city: Chicago! I was right about them enjoying the book. I enjoyed it so much myself that I bought the sequel: The Wright 3! Now this one really captured MY imagination.
Many years ago I had watched a movie on TV about Frank Lloyd Wright and it intrigued me. Later, I saw a documentary about him that centered more on his work than on some of the more tragic aspects of his life and I found that I loved the houses and corporate buildings he and his staff created, especially the one in Pennsylvania called Fallingwater. The Wright 3, also takes place in Oak Park (a suburb of Chicago) and one of the children lives next door to the Robie House, another prairie house built by FLW. The whole mystery centers around this house and aspects of the character of FLW (the lucky jade piece he liked to carry around with him) and his buildings (the hidden clues in his stained glass windows). The children even take the “L” (elevated train) into Chicago to check out some things in the museum.
Since then, I’ve added a pop-up book (I know how corny that sounds but it’s awesome to see his buildings in 3D) of FLW buildings and a book called Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (recommended to me be my sister). The result is, that when I head out on my road trip in September I’ll be spending 3 nights in Chicago along the way so that I can take a walking tour of the FLW homes in Oak Park, take the “L” downtown (elevated railway), visit some museums, and do a walking tour of the “loop” which has some outstanding architecture and sculptures all along its route (did you see the movie, The Lake House?), especially the interior of the Rookery done by FLW.
So, as important as it is to have something good to read over lunch or at the end of a long day on the road, reading something good can inspire you to get out on the road!