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Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted October 16, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book

    Masterpiece by Elise Broach is a delightful story of the unlikely friendship that develops between a lonely young boy named James and a beetle named Marvin. In the tradition of E. B. White's Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan, Broach takes this human/insect encounter out of the wild and into New York City, where Marvin lives with his parents and other relatives behind a kitchen cupboard in James's home.<BR/><BR/>The two characters meet when Marvin draws an ink rendition of the skyline outside James's window as a birthday present. When everyone thinks that James is the artist, of course he can't tell them who really drew what's being hailed as a masterpiece. The two are drawn into a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where officials hope to recover previously stolen masterpieces by a well known artist from the early Renaissance.<BR/><BR/>You'll happily follow the adventures as the two work to unravel the complications of their deception while they learn the true value of art and friendship. The publisher, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, also features an excellent companion discussion guide on its Web site,

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    Great children's book

    What a fun children's book! I am a senior citizen who loves good children's literature and this is good! Beetles and the name Marvin are now my favorites. Will have to read Shakespeare's Secret next!

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  • Posted August 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Allison Fraclose for

    Marvin lives with his family behind the wall underneath the kitchen sink of the Pompadays' New York apartment. Although the young beetle and his relatives try to help the Pompadays in little tasks, like fixing the thermostat and retrieving a lost contact lens, they know all too well the danger that exists for them simply by being beetles in the world of humans.

    Marvin, however, feels a kinship with James Pompaday, and he is determined to find a satisfactory present for the boy's eleventh birthday, especially since the rest of the boy's day ended up such a disappointment. For James - whose ambitious mother invited the children of clients as his guests and whose artist father showed up for only a few moments near the end to deliver an ink-and-pen set as a present, when James has no interest in art - his birthday ended up exactly as he had known it would. As the oldest son in a blended family, he often finds himself passed over and ignored.

    All of that changes thanks to Marvin. While delivering the beetles' gift of a buffalo nickel, Marvin, on a whim, draws a teeny, tiny picture of the view from James's bedroom window with the ink that James received from his father. When James awakens and discovers the tiny beetle's masterpiece, Marvin takes a chance and reveals himself to the boy.

    Astounded, James realizes that the work is Marvin's, and although the two can't speak or communicate, their bond of friendship will take them through a mystery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    The adults, under the impression that the tiny drawing is the work of James, ask the boy to copy a famous work by artist Albrecht D&#252;rer. One of a set of four, the rest of the collection has disappeared at the hands of an art thief, and, with a plan to have James's forgery stolen instead, they hope to recover the rest of the stolen art. However, Marvin is the real artist, and his parents forbid him to get involved. It is up to Marvin to decide how important his friendship with James is, and how important art is to him.

    Chock-full of artful conversations and historical tidbits regarding the Renaissance era, MASTERPIECE is a masterpiece that blends several storylines and character motivations into a wonderfully deep work. Fans of "small world" stories, such as THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE and THE BORROWERS, will delight in Marvin's relationships with the complicated worlds around him, and how he manages to cross the line to affect both for the better.

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  • Posted May 2, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Cute little funny mystery

    Masterpiece, by Elise Broach is a great book and fun mystery. Masterpiece is about a beetle named Marvin that draws a picture for James, a human boy and how they get into a mystery about the missing Durer drawings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are a couple of interesting things in this book. One of those things is that it comes from Marvin's perspective. It talks about how long it takes to get to James's room or how big human food is. Another interesting thing about this book is how Marvin and James get around without talking. Marvin will be in his hand and will point his head in the way he wants to go. I would recommend this book to anyone that doesn't really know what to read but wants to read something.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2009

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