For Loren
Cyber.kdz :5
In Pursuit of Picasso
Available Now from Avon Camelot Books

Loren's family has always lived with the shame of a criminal in the family history -- an uncle who suppposedly stole priceless art works during World War II. But the Louvre Museum in Paris has just announced the discovery of a letter that may prove the whereabouts of the stolen art. Loren's parents refuse to talk about the man who brought disgrace to the family, but Loren has read his uncle's diary and believes the paintings were hidden to keep them from Nazi thieves. Now, with hot technology, a worldwide connection among the Kids, and Steve Roberts - an amazing (and real!) tech nomad traveling through Europe on a computerized bicycle -- can the Kids uncover an international crime plot and clear the name of of a French patriot?

Below, you can read the first two chapters of In Pursuit of Picasso. You can also check out Nomadic Research Labs - the web site of the real Steve Roberts.



"So, I pull the lever and, voilà! the elevator doors they open and the woman falls out — right into my arms! ‘Mon dieu’, she cries and puts her hand to her forehead. ‘Mon dieu. It was terrible! A nightmare! Thank you, my savior…’ And she faints."
Monsieur Jouet paused in his story, put a forkful of potatoes in his mouth, then took a drink of wine. He continued.
"Then, I lay her down — very carefully — and I look into the elevator to see if there is anyone else trapped. No one is there. But, you will not believe what I saw. This woman, she had written, on the wall, with one of those things… those pencils you women use on your eyes…"
"Eyeliner," Madame Jouet said.
"Yes, exactemente, eyeliner. With an eyeliner, this woman, after only two hours in the elevator, had written her will on the wall! Ha!" Monsieur Jouet slapped his knee and laughed. "And she was leaving everything to her cat!"
"I feel sorry for her," Loren’s older brother Édouard said, though he repressed a smile. "She was probably frightened."
"No. She was hoping for some publicity. When she saw there were no cameras, she woke right up and strode away. Very angry. What do think of that, Loren?"
"Hmmm?" Loren looked up. "What? I’m sorry, Papa. I was not listening…"
"Loren! My best story in weeks and my son does not listen?"
"Something is wrong, Lolo?" His mother always spoke to him using his nickname.
"No, Maman. Just thinking."
Édouard looked at him carefully, as did his father and mother.
"It is Pierre, oui?" his brother said.
Loren looked up, surprised. "How did you know?"
Édouard nodded toward the newspaper sitting on a side table across the room. "I saw the article in Le Monde. They had a big story about the letter. And before dinner you were pouring over the photo album. You always do that when you are thinking of Pierre."
Their father creased his brow. "Why do we have to bring this up?"
"I am sorry, Papa," Loren responded. "I came across the article in the online edition of Le Monde. I was doing research for a friend in the United States. I could not help but read it. They always write such terrible things about Pierre. It cannot be true."
"It is true, Loren. You must accept it. Your great-uncle was a thief. That is all. For centuries the Jouet family was respected in this city. Your great great grandfather, François, was even on the Comité des Musées." Monsieur Jouet shook his head. "He was a great man. I knew him for a short time when I was very young. But by then he was broken. His son had disgraced him. Pierre’s betrayal caused him enormous grief."
Monsieur Jouet took a sip of wine and stared past his son and out the kitchen window, remembering. His family remained quiet. Finally, Loren spoke.
"I just wish we could see the letter." He looked into his father’s face. "I have read Pierre’s diary Papa; he loved his father very much. He wrote how much he respected Grandfather François. And how he taught him to respect art. How could Pierre then turn into a thief?"
Édouard spoke up. "People change, Loren. And World War II was a difficult time. People had to make very hard choices."
"Your brother is right, Lolo," Madame Jouet added. "It was not like it is now. We have no idea how much trouble those times brought. It is best we forget and look ahead."
But Loren was still looking at his father’s face. And his father was still staring out the window. The subject was painful for him — for nearly all the Jouet family. Pierre’s thievery was the only dark spot on the family reputation. Monsieur Jouet did not like to talk about it. He did not like to think about it. He looked away from the window. First at his son and then at the whole family.
"We will say no more about Pierre," he said quietly.
"But Papa…"
"No, Loren," he demanded gently. "To us, Pierre does not exist. He is not a Jouet. We will say no more."
He picked up his fork and began to eat.
He is a Jouet, Loren thought. But he knew when to obey his father.
He said nothing.
But he thought much.


From: Loren,
To: Becky,
Date: Mon, 20:12 (Mon, 19:12 GMT)
Subject: Research

Chère Becky,

Here is the file with the research you requested. I found the information in the online archives of Le Monde.



From: Becky,
To: Loren,
Date: Mon, 16:37 (Mon, 21:37 GMT)
Subject: Thank you

Dear Loren,

Thanks! The stuff looks great. I really appreciate your help.

Hey, you don’t sound like your usual self. Is something the matter?


From: Loren,
To: Becky,
Date: Tue, 09:24 (Tue, 08:24 GMT)
Subject: Re: Thank you

Chère Becky,

I am always surprised how well we Kids know each other even though most of us have not met. You are correct — I am not very happy at the moment. But it is a long story. You have a report to write for history. And you must impress your Mr. O, I know. I will not take your time.


From: Becky,
To: Loren,
Date: Tue, 09:45 (Tue, 14:45 GMT)
Subject: No Choice


You must be crazy! Mr. O can wait! You tell me what’s wrong right now or else. You have no choice... I will bug you until you tell me. And I will not write a word of my report until I know what’s the matter. So if I fail, it will be your fault!

What’s up?


From: Loren,
To: Becky,
Date: Tue, 15:01 (Tue, 15:01 GMT)
Subject: Pierre Jouet

Mon ami,

If you insist, then I must tell. I do not mind. It will be nice to tell someone since there is no one here to talk with about it. But, as I said, it is a long story.

My great uncle was Pierre Jouet. He was an art student in Paris before the Second World War. He loved art so much. Like I love architecture. I know this because we have his diary. I have read it many times. He was a very good writer and wrote long passages about Paris and the Louvre and the art he loved. Mostly Picasso and many of the modern painters. My great great grandfather, François Jouet, Pierre’s father, was not happy about this. He thought there was nothing finer than the French masters and that Pierre should study painters like Renoir and Courbet and Degas. But he was happy that Pierre was good at his studies and was making quite a name for himself at the University. François was on the Comité des Musées, an important committee that ran all of the museums in Paris. He used his influence to help Pierre get a job as an Assistant Curator at the Louvre where he worked on special exhibits of modern works. Here he was very happy and worked long hours. The curators were impressed with him.

Then came the war. Most of the great works of the museums were moved out of Paris in case the city was bombed by the Germans. But the city was not bombed. France was occupied and the Germans began to collect the art they wanted for their own museums and private collections. But this was very difficult because, even though Germany had defeated France, they had to be careful what they took. Artworks are very important to the people of a country and it is more difficult to maintain order if the curators are crying that national treasures are stolen.

It was very complicated and very political. I do not understand everything that happened. But I do know that Pierre made himself invaluable to the Nazis so that he could stay working at the museum. He helped them decide which paintings were fake and which could be traded for other works from museums in Germany. Many people thought he was a traitor. But really, he was working for the French Resistance. He kept careful journals of where the Germans sent the works they took. That way, the Resistance could tell the Allies where to avoid bombing so the art would not be destroyed. Also, after the war, it helped in the recovery of many missing pieces.

But Pierre was not here after the war to help find the missing art. In 1943 he disappeared with 11 paintings. People thought that perhaps the Germans had found out about his work and killed him. But the Germans said he had stolen the paintings and they were looking for him as well. My great great grandfather was heart-broken. He loved his son very much and it hurt him terribly to think he could have run away with art that belonged to the museum. Pierre was never heard from again. And the pictures have never been found.

Some people say he sold the pictures to private collectors and went to live under a false name in Tahiti. But I do not believe this. If you read his diary, you too would see how much he loved his work… and his father. I do not see how he could do this thing.

Yesterday when I was finding the information you requested, I saw an article about Pierre. It said that an old letter from him to his father was found in an office in the Louvre. They are not saying what is in the letter because first they want to prove whether or not it is real. I think it has clues to the pictures and to what happened to Pierre. I would like very much to see this letter.

To my family, Pierre is a disgrace. No one wants to talk of this. It is painful for them to remember. So they want to forget. But I cannot.

Ton ami,

From: Becky,
To: Loren,
Date: Tue, 10:33 (Tue, 15:33 GMT)
Subject: Wow

Dear Loren,

Wow. That is some story.

Can you send me a copy of the article? (Translated, of course).


Look for
in your local bookstore!

Back to Top