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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312608705
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 03/30/2010
Series: Masterpiece Adventures Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 153,063
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.66(h) x 0.85(d)
Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Elise Broach is the New York Times bestselling author of books for children and young adults, including Desert Crossing and Shakespeare's Secret, as well as several picture books. Her books have been selected as ALA notable books, Junior Library Guild selections, an E.B. White Read Aloud Award, and nominated for an Edgar Award, among other distinctions. Ms. Broach holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Yale University. She was born in Georgia and lives in the woods of rural Connecticut, walking distance from three farms, a library, a post office and two country stores.

Kelly Murphy has illustrated many books for children including Hush Little Dragon. She lives in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt


By Elise Broach, Kelly Murphy

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2008 Elise Broach
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8508-6


A Family Emergency

Home, for Marvin's family, was a damp corner of the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink. Here, a leaking pipe had softened the plaster and caused it to crumble away. Just behind the wall, Marvin's family had hollowed out three spacious rooms, and, as his parents often remarked, it was a perfect location. It was warm, because of the hot-water pipes embedded in the wall; moist, to make burrowing easy; and dark and musty, like all the other homes the family had lived in. Best of all, the white plastic wastebasket that loomed on one side offered a constant litter of apple cores, bread crumbs, onion skins, and candy wrappers, making the cupboard an ideal foraging ground.

Marvin and his relatives were beetles. They had shiny black shells, six legs, and excellent night vision. They were medium-sized, as beetles go, not much bigger than a raisin. But they were very agile: good at climbing walls, scurrying across countertops, and slipping under closed doors. They lived in the large apartment of a human family, the Pompadays, in New York City.

One morning, Marvin awoke to find the household in an uproar. Usually the first sounds of the day were the gentle rustlings of his parents in the next room and, in the distance, the clank of pots in the Pompaday kitchen sink. But today he heard the frantic clicking of Mrs. Pompaday's high heels, and her voice, anxious and shrill. Just as he was beginning to wonder what had happened, his mother came looking for him in a great hurry.

"Marvin!" she cried. "Come quickly, darling! We have an emergency."

Marvin crawled out of the soft cotton ball that was his bed and, still only half-awake, followed her into the living room. There, his father, his uncle Albert, and his cousin Elaine were deep in conversation. Elaine ran to him and grabbed one of his legs.

"Mrs. Pompaday has lost her contact lens! Down the bathroom sink! And since you're the only one who knows how to swim, we need you to fish it out!"

Marvin drew back in surprise, but his cousin continued happily. "Oh! What if you drown?"

Marvin was not nearly as thrilled at this prospect as Elaine. "I won't drown," he said firmly. "I'm a good swimmer."

He'd practiced swimming for almost a month now, in an old juice bottle cap filled with water. He was the only member of his entire family who could swim, a skill his parents both marveled at and took credit for.

"Marvin has exceptional coordination, such fine control over his legs," Mama often remarked. "It reminds me of my days in the ballet."

"When he sets his mind to something, there's no stopping him," Papa would add smugly. "He's a chip off the old block."

But right now, these words were little comfort to Marvin. Swimming in a bottle cap was one thing — it was half an inch deep. Swimming inside a drainpipe was something else altogether. He paced the room nervously.

Mama was talking to Uncle Albert, looking mad. "Well, I should think not!" she exclaimed. "He's just a child. I say let the Pompadays call a plumber."

Papa shook his head. "It's too risky. If a plumber goes poking around in there, he'll see that the wall is rotting away. He'll say they need to replace it, and that'll be the end of Albert and Edith's home."

Uncle Albert nodded vigorously and beckoned to Marvin. "Marvin, my boy, what do you say? You'll have to go down the bathroom pipe and find that contact lens. Think you can handle it?"

Marvin hesitated. Mama and Papa were still arguing. Now Papa looked at him unhappily. "I'd go myself, son — you know I would — if I could swim."

"No one can swim like Marvin," Elaine declared. "But even Marvin may not be able to swim well enough. There's probably a lot of water in that pipe by now. Who knows how far down he'll have to go?" She paused dramatically. "Maybe he'll never make it back up to the surface."

"Hush, Elaine," said Uncle Albert.

Marvin grabbed the fragment of peanut shell that he used as a float when he swam in his own pool at home. He took a deep breath.

"I can try, at least," he said to his parents. "I'll be careful."

"Then I'm going with you," Mama decided, "to make sure you aren't foolhardy. And if it looks the least bit dangerous, we won't risk it."

And so they set off for the Pompadays' bathroom, with Uncle Albert leading the way. Marvin followed close behind his mother, the peanut shell tucked awkwardly under one of his legs.


Down the Drain

It took them a fair bit of time to reach the bathroom. First they had to crawl out of the cupboard into the bright morning light of the Pompadays' kitchen. There, baby William was banging on his high chair with a spoon, scattering Cheerios all over the floor. Ordinarily, the beetles might have waited in the shadows to snatch one and carry it off for lunch, but today there were more important tasks ahead. They scuttled along the baseboard to the living room, and then began the exhausting journey over the Oriental rug, which at least was dark blue, so they didn't have to worry about being seen.

All the way to the bathroom, Marvin could hear Mr. and Mrs. Pompaday yelling at each other.

"I don't understand why you can't just take the pipe apart and find it," Mrs. Pompaday complained. "That's what Karl would have done." Karl was Mrs. Pompaday's first husband.

"You take the pipe apart and find it. And flood the bathroom. Then we'll have to replace more than your contact lens," Mr. Pompaday fumed. He stomped to the phone. "I'm calling a plumber."

"Oh, fine," said Mrs. Pompaday. "He'll take all day to get here. I have to leave for work in twenty minutes, and I won't be able to find my way to the door without my contact lenses."

James, Mrs. Pompaday's son from her first marriage, stood in the doorway. He was ten years old, a thin boy with big feet, serious gray eyes, and a scattering of freckles across his cheeks. He would be eleven tomorrow, and Marvin and his family had been trying to think of something nice to do for his birthday, since they infinitely preferred him to the rest of the Pompaday family. He was quiet and reasonable, unlikely to make sudden movements or raise his voice.

Seeing him now, Marvin remembered how James had caught sight of him once, a few weeks ago, when Marvin was dragging home an M&M he'd found for the family dessert. Marvin had been so excited about his good luck that he'd forgotten to stay close to the baseboard. There he was, out in the open sea of cream-colored tile in the kitchen, when James's blue sneaker stopped alongside him. Marvin panicked, dropped the M&M, and ran for his life. But James only crouched down and watched him, never saying a word.

Marvin hadn't told his parents about that particular close call. He'd vowed to himself that he'd be more careful in the future.

Now James shifted thoughtfully on those same blue sneakers. "You could wear your glasses, Mom," he said.

"Oh, fine," said Mrs. Pompaday. "Wear my glasses. Fine. I guess it doesn't matter what I look like when I meet clients. Maybe I should just go to work in my bathrobe."

By this time, Uncle Albert, Marvin, and his mother had reached the door of the bedroom, and the bathroom lay just beyond. Unfortunately, the three humans were effectively blocking the route. Three jittery pairs of feet — one in sneakers, one in high heels, and one in loafers — made it hard to find a safe path.

"Stay close to me," Mama told Marvin. She hurried along the door frame. Dodging the spikes of Mrs. Pompaday's heels, Marvin and Uncle Albert followed.

They made it up the bathroom wall to the sink without mishap. Normally, the light tile would have made them easy targets for a rolled-up newspaper or the bottom of a slipper.

But the Pompadays were so engrossed in their argument that they didn't notice three shiny black beetles scrambling onto the sink.

"I'll keep a lookout," Uncle Albert said. "You two go ahead."

Marvin and his mother tumbled and slid down the smooth side of the sink to the drain. They ducked under the silver stopper and stood on the edge of the open pipe, staring into blackness.

Marvin could hear a distant trickling sound. As his eyes adjusted, he saw water, murky and uninviting, a few inches below. He thought of Cousin Elaine's grim prediction and shuddered. Why hadn't his mother taken a firmer stand against this?

"Well ... here I go," he said to Mama, who promptly grabbed his leg and held fast.

"Now don't do anything rash, darling," she told him. "Go slowly, and come right back to me if it seems dangerous."

"Okay," Marvin promised. He clutched his peanut-shell float and took a deep breath. Then he launched himself into the void.

He barely remembered to shut his eyes before the cold water closed over his head. Pedaling his legs frantically, he came bobbing back up to the surface. The cloudy water tasted vaguely of toothpaste. It smelled horrible.

"Marvin? Marvin, are you all right?" Mama's voice echoed thinly in the pipe.

"I'm fine," he called back.

He swam through the scummy water, which was littered with every nasty thing that might wash down a human's drain: bits of food, hair, slivers of soap. He wanted to throw up.

"Do you see it yet?" his mother called.

"No," Marvin answered. He suddenly realized he had no idea what a contact lens looked like.

Then, as he was about to turn back, he did see something: a thin plastic disc, stuck to the side of the pipe. It looked just like the fruit bowl Mama used at home. Out of breath, he shot back up to the surface.

"I found it, Mama!" he yelled.

"Oh, good, darling." His mother breathed a sigh of relief. "Now we'd better hurry, before someone turns on the faucet and washes us both away."

Marvin discovered he couldn't hold on to the contact lens and the peanut shell at the same time. Reluctantly, he let go of his float, took a deep breath, and plunged under the water again.

In the distance, he heard his mother cry, "Marvin! Your float!" But he moved his legs swiftly, unburdened by the peanut shell, and glided down through the dark water. He swam straight to the contact lens and clasped it with his front two legs. Pulling it away from the side of the pipe, he shot quickly back to the surface. Through the lens, he could see his mother, wavy and distorted, looming above him. She'd crawled down the side of the pipe to the water's edge, beckoning to him.

"Oh, Marvin, thank heavens. You are a wonder, darling. What leg control. I wish my old ballet crowd could see you." She took the lens from him. "Whew! The water smells positively vile. And what a fuss over this little thing! Why, it looks exactly like my fruit bowl."

Holding it gingerly on her back, Mama crawled up the pipe. She scooted under the stopper, with Marvin close behind her, and together they dragged the lens up the side of the sink.

Uncle Albert rushed down to meet them. "By George, you've done it!" he cried. "Marvin, my boy, you're a hero! A hero! Wait till I tell your aunt Edith!"

Marvin beamed modestly. He flexed his legs and shook them dry.

"Let's see, where shall we put it?" Mama asked.

They looked around. "By the faucet, maybe," Marvin suggested. "That way, it won't get washed down the drain again."

They placed the lens near the hot-water handle and dashed behind a green water glass just as James walked into the bathroom.

"After all this trouble, they'd better find it," Mama whispered grimly. Marvin kept his eyes on the contact lens. It glistened in the morning light, a faint blue color.

They could hear Mr. Pompaday on the phone with the plumber. "What's that? Oh, okay, I'll look." He bellowed, "James! Are you in the bathroom? Make yourself useful. Are the pipes in there copper or galvanized steel?"

James stood at the sink. "I don't know," he said. "But, Mom, I found your contact lens. It's right here by the faucet."

And then what a commotion: Mrs. Pompaday rushing into the bathroom in disbelief, Mr. Pompaday loudly apologizing to the plumber, and James lifting the contact lens in his outstretched palm.

"Well, I guess that's that," Mama said to Marvin as soon as the bathroom emptied. "We'd better head back and let your father know you're all right."

So Mama, Uncle Albert, and Marvin ambled home, where everyone greeted them joyfully. Papa, Aunt Edith, and Elaine all patted Marvin on his shell, but nobody wanted to hug him. He was wet and slimy, and smelled overpoweringly of the drain water.

"I think I need a bath," Marvin said.

And then Mama and Papa fussed over him, filling the bottle cap with warm water and adding a single grain of turquoise dishwashing detergent. Marvin sank into the bubbles and floated in the pool to his heart's content, until he was shiny and clean again.


The Birthday Party

The next day was Saturday, James's birthday. There was to be a party, a large one, and the Pompadays' dining room was festooned with streamers and balloons. As Marvin and his parents foraged for breakfast under the kitchen table, they listened to the plans.

"I don't want those boys eating in the living room," Mrs. Pompaday told James. "Make sure they stay at the table when it's time for the cake."

"But, Mom," James said. "I can't tell them what to do. They're not even my friends."

William banged deafeningly on his high-chair tray with a spoon and crowed at James. "Ya ya! Ya ya!" From what Marvin could tell, this was the word for James in William's very limited but forceful language.

"What a big boy you are!" Mrs. Pompaday crooned, wiping the baby's face with a washcloth. She turned to James. "What do you mean they're not your friends? Why, the Fentons live right upstairs. You see Max every day."

James sighed.

"They're very important clients of mine, the Fentons. I've gotten several referrals from them, and you know, that's the heart of my business. Word of mouth." Below the table, Mama and Papa looked at each other and rolled their eyes. "So I hope you'll treat Max nicely, dear," Mrs. Pompaday continued.

Mama shook her head, whispering, "Clients! Will he have a single one of his own friends at the party?" she asked.

"Of course not," Papa replied.

Marvin had seen enough of Mrs. Pompaday's parties to know that his parents were right. Whatever the occasion, the guest list was always a loose assemblage of people she worked with or wanted to work with, and for the entire party Mrs. Pompaday would float fawningly from one person to the next, confiding self-important tips about the Manhattan real estate market.

Mrs. Pompaday plucked William from the high chair and said encouragingly, "We're having a magician, remember? You know how you love magic, James."

James hesitated. "Mom ... don't you think that's the kind of thing people have at a little kid's party?"

"Nonsense, dear. Everyone loves magicians. They're like clowns."

Marvin personally hated clowns, which he had seen in abundance on television because Mr. Pompaday had an odd fascination with the circus. Clowns struck Marvin as scary and untrustworthy, with their painted faces and exaggerated expressions, always trying to get strangers to laugh.

The beetles had learned most of what they knew about the outside world from the Pompadays' endless stream of television shows. Mrs. Pompaday's favorites were hospital dramas or soap operas, while Mr. Pompaday preferred long documentaries on obscure topics. James liked cartoons, which Marvin found colorful and quite satisfying, especially when they featured a heroic or particularly energetic insect. The best thing about television in the Pompaday household was that the Pompadays tended to snack while they watched their shows, so the beetles could count on a veritable smorgasbord of popcorn kernels, raisins, and potato-chip crumbs at the end of the evening.

Marvin watched James, who was jiggling a sneaker. "Mom," James said, "do you think Dad will come?"

"I don't know, James. He said he'd try. But it's going to be a wonderful party, you'll see!" Mrs. Pompaday swept over and kissed the top of his head. "Stop moping. It's your birthday! Come help me with the goody bags."


Excerpted from Masterpiece by Elise Broach, Kelly Murphy. Copyright © 2008 Elise Broach. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Inventive ... Broach ... packs this fast-moving story with perennially seductive themes: hidden lives and secret friendships, miniature worlds lost to disbelievers ... Broach and Kelly show readers something new."

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) "Delightful intricacies of beetle life ... blend seamlessly with the suspenseful caper as well as the sentimental story of a complicated-but-rewarding friendship ... Murphy’s charming pen-and-ink drawings populate the short chapters of this funny, winsome novel."

Kirkus Reviews "This marvelous story is sure to be a hit."

School Library Journal

Reading Group Guide


1. Near the end of his adventure with James, Marvin reflects,

"A great friendship is like a great work of art. It takes time and attention, and a spark of something that is impossible to describe. It is a happy, lucky accident; finding some kindred part of yourself in a total stranger" (page 287). What do you think about this idea? What do James and Marvin like about each other? How does their friendship grow even though they cannot speak with each other? Do you think they remain friends after this story?

2. Why do you think Elise Broach chose to make Marvin a beetle rather than a person or another kind of animal? What do you think she is saying about friendship by having a beetle and a boy become friends?

3. When Denny introduces James and his father to Christina,

Denny says, "Come meet my friends" (page 63). When Christina sees James and his father visiting the museum after the Dürer drawings have been rescued, she greets them by saying, "My friends!" (page 273). Are Denny and Christina

James's friends? Why or why not? How do James's relationships with Denny and Christina change over the course of the story? Considering what Denny did, is Denny friends

with anyone? Explain.


4. Compare and contrast James's family and Marvin's family.

Which family would you rather live with? Why?

5. Marvin's mother states, ". . . we expect a lot less than people do. If we get through the day without being stepped on,

with a little food to fill our bellies, a safe place to bed down for the a few hours, and our family and friends close by—

well, that's a good day, isn't it? In fact, a perfect day" (page

171). What do you think about her idea of a perfect day?

6. How does James feel about his parents' divorce? Describe the relationships James has with his mother, his stepfather,

and his father. Marvin thinks it's good that James's father likes Christina (page 287). What do you think about a second family for James?


7. What is a virtue? What does each virtue featured in the story—fortitude, temperance, prudence, and justice—mean?

Give an example of when a character displays one of these virtues in the story. Give an example of how someone might enact one of these virtues in everyday life. Which of the four

virtues do you think is most important? Why?

8. James says that he made the drawing even though he didn't. Why does he do this? Does this affect how you think about James? Did he have any other options? Do you think

James caught his hand in the taxi trunk on purpose? What makes you think the way you do?

9. When Marvin overhears James agree to sell his drawing,

Marvin thinks that people care only about money (page 165).

Do you agree? Why or why not? Is money what James really cares about? What do you think matters most in life? What do you think matters most to James?

10. Denny offers that fortitude can be another word for bravery or courage (page 152). Which characters in this story do you think are brave? Why? Bravery can be more than taking a physical stand or risk. There's also an intellectual bravery in standing up for what you believe or for what is right.

What characters display an intellectual bravery? How?


11. Karl says that a masterpiece is "the best of an artist's work—one of a kind . . . It can be hard to say what makes one work stand out from the rest" (page 150). What makes something a masterpiece? Why are masterpieces valuable?

Why do you think the book is titled Masterpiece?

12. What did you think when you learned that Denny was the thief? Why do you think he stole Dürer's drawings? At the end of the story, James feels concerned about Denny having to go to jail. Marvin is not as forgiving. Do you think Denny

should go to jail for stealing art? Why or why not?

13. In the author's note, Elise Broach explains that though

Albrecht Dürer was a real artist, his drawings of the four virtues in Masterpiece are fiction. Marvin creates pen-and-ink line drawings like Dürer did, and Kelly Murphy's illustrations in Masterpiece are line drawings. How are line drawings different from paintings? Use a pen or pencil to make your own line drawing. Consider drawing a scene, as Marvin did in his first drawing for James's birthday, or a representation of one of the virtues.

Small Worlds

14. How does the author make Marvin and his small world seem real?

15. How are the Pompadays and Marvin's family interdependent

(knowingly or unknowingly)?

16. Think about what Marvin and his family need to live in

James's apartment. If a family of beetles lived in your home,

where would they live and why? Where would they have a picnic? What kind of crumbs would they find for their meals?

This guide was prepared by Emily Linsay, who is a teacher at

Bank Street School for Children in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Masterpiece 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 136 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! I hope evey one reads it! It is about a boy named James and a beetle named Marvin, who are best friends when Marvin makes James a pitchure of the outside of his window.... Well i don't want to tell any more so u just hae to read it. ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a total page turner and captures you into the story and keeps you wandering. I would reccomend this book as a Grade 4-5 kind of book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When a beetle named Marvin draws a picture for a boy named james as a birthday gift, the 2 of them meet,and become a funny pair. But when everyone thinks that James is the amazing artist, James and Marvin get tangled up in an odd mystrly.( sorry if I spelled mystry wrong) This great book is filled with fun and suprises that are sure to keep you on your toes!
Amy D'Alton More than 1 year ago
Just like the title,the book was a masterpeice : )
Pillboss More than 1 year ago
My 8yo son just finished this book and loved it. He found it adventurous.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
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.

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.

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,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it so quikly
BUSYMom10 More than 1 year ago
This book is GREAT!!! I purchased this book for my 10 year old son for his Nook, at his request. His 4th grade teacher had recommended this book to her class and for good reason. My son reads this story to me just before bed time, and I must say it is a very creative story that we are both enjoying very much!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good for any age!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in second grade in 2009 i think. Found it again three years later an i still liked it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I recomend it
ktpete More than 1 year ago
Best book
David Rubitski More than 1 year ago
This book is a cool page turning book! And its super fun to read! If you like nutmegs and you live in CT this is a 2011 nutmeg! so if you want to read all ten before 2012......GET READING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Masterpiece!  Masterpiece by Elise Broach, belongs to a special category. The book is a top 20 Bluestem book of 2015-2016, which is voted by kids. Kelly Murphy's illustration help with Broach's writing.          The book is about how there was a family of beetles living in a water-softened wall of the Pompaday's Upper East Side kitchen. The beetle family help the Pompaday's do work, such as find the mother of the Pompaday's family contact lenses and fixing their microwave. On every Tuesday, the family of beetles takes a family outing when the maid comes. My favorite character is Marvin, which is 1 of the 2 main characters. I like how he is a everyday sneaky beetle that soon turns into this full of curiosity beetle that wants to leave the apartment that he lives in.         One day it was the Pompaday's oldest son James’s birthday. The mother of the Pompaday's first husband came to give James his birthday present. It was a paint set, but he wasn't even into drawing! When the beetle family remembered James' birthday, the beetle family wanted to give something to James. They went in the mother's jewelry box to find a coin.           The next day when the Pompaday's were getting ready for church, Marvin, a beetle of the family, rolled the coin to James' room for his birthday present. While he was in the room he saw the paint set on James's desk. He painted a picture of the view outside the window. He was doing the finishing touches when James' woke up from bed. When James saw the painting he was astonished. He kept on saying who did this? When Marvin heard that he stepped out from his hiding spot and showed himself. After James realized he painted the picture, he was shocked. When the James’s family saw the painting, they thought James painted it and loved it. And that's how the story "Masterpiece" gets under way. This is a book that really soaks you in like a sponge after getting to the near middle of the story. I had to read it and I thought it was going to be one of those boring books, but as I went on I didn't want to check the clock or brush a bug off of me. I felt like I was in the book doing the actions of the words I was reading. I guarantee you if you're at a minimum of middle school and a maximum of a young adult, you are going to adore this lovely story. *4th grade student
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Unexpectedly, I found myself enjoying this book, whose main character is a beetle who learns that he is an artist. Leaving his drawing out, the human boy living in the house he is in gets credit for the drawing and in turn the pair becomes involved in what seems to be a fake art heist.
JeSouhaite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very artistic beetle named Marvin and a boy, James, get caught up in a mystery of stolen artwork, forgery, and a lasting friendship that is unusual to say the least. A fun light romp of a story. Great for fans of Blue Balliett¿s Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, or The Calder Game.Ages 9-12
RefPenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When James is given a pen and ink set for his birthday by his artist father he isn¿t particularly impressed. Marvin the beetle also lives in James¿s house and wants to give James a present too. When Marvin delivers his present he sees the pen and ink set and is inspired to draw a picture. James finds it in the morning and soon Marvin can¿t resist revealing himself. This is the start of an unusual friendship and a fantastic adventure involving forgery and art theft.This is a lovely story of friendship with plenty of mystery, adventure and suspense thrown in. Both the beetle family and the human family are well depicted and serve as contrasts for each other. The detailed pen and ink drawings fit the story well. Recommended for readers 8 and up but would make a great read aloud for younger children.
KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Delightfully fun! Marvin is a young beetle, living in the Pompaday's New York apartment kitchen cabinet with his family. Marvin dreams of leaving the apartment and seeing the larger world that is outside the windows, but that terrifies his family. Marvin befriends James, Mrs. Pompaday's older son, on his birthday, and gives him the gift of a tiny ink drawing of the scene out James's window. When the drawing is discovered by the adults, James takes credit for it, not quite knowing how to tell that it was a bug that created it! James goes to the Metropolitan Museum with his father to see some very famous drawings like his, and James is asked to create a copy of one to assist in an international art theft sting. Marvin works on the copy, but things don't quite go as planned, and James and Marvin get caught up in all kinds of twists and turns! This is a wonderful story about finding your own talents, trusting your friends, and forgiving their mistakes. The illustrations are as much fun as the story! Mystery, for 6th grade and up.
ChristianR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who knew that beetles were artistic? Marvin is a beetle who lives by the kitchen trash can in James' house. James is lonely, and Marvin befriends him and helps him to foil a plot to steal Albrecht Durer's drawings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Marvin even helps by creating an amazingly close copy of one of Durer's pen and ink drawings. A fun mystery with deeper underlying themes.
ConanTheLibr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not a bad little story. In the line of "art mysteries for kids" a la the Blue Balliet books ([book: The Wright 3], [book: Chasing Vermeer]). This one involves a quartet of 4 (imaginery) Durer etchings. Our hero, James, has a small beetle (Marvin) as his buddy/sidekick, and together they catch the art thief. While it's no [book: Stuart Little], the "beetle's eye" perspective is fun.
59Square on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Broach does a great job of making art theft accessible to young children in this book, through the eyes of a beetle. The beetle, Marvin, is an artist, and the young boy James that he befriends acts like the drawings are his ¿ causing unforeseen circumstances when they go to the Met to see Durer¿s miniatures which resemble Marvin¿s. The theft is explained clearly, and there is no blood and guts ,which is good. Sometimes, though, I wondered if the author was putting too much on a beetle, who was smart, brave, and could communicate without words. Interesting, but a little flawed.
katitefft on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Masterpiece is a good example of modern fantasy because it tells the impossible story of how a friendship forms between a boy and beetle. This friendship develops as a result of a piece of art, which invites the reader into the world of art history, and more specifically, the famous artist Albrecht Durer. The information presented in thes book about Durer makes it a good piece of historical fiction as well. Readers will find the friendship to be sweet and likeable, but the mystery element is not nearly as captivating. It took a long time for the height of the mystery to be reached, and by that point the resolution was fairly predictable, While older readers might benefit more from the art history and extensive vocabulary present in this book, the plot may not be strong enough to adequately hold their attention. For younger readers, the plot will be engaging, but the vocabulary and historical information may be far too advanced.
katec9999 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book because I had just finished Elise Broach¿s other book, Shakespeare¿s Secret, and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more, although it¿s quite different from Shakespeare¿s Secret. This story is about Marvin, a beetle who lives in the apartment of a boy named James in New York City. James is a quiet boy, kind of overwhelmed by his career-driven mother and step-father, and his artist father. Marvin is an adventurous beetle, who loves to explore James¿ apartment and swim in his pool, a bottle cap filled with water. One day while exploring, he discovers a pen-and-ink set in James' room. He dips his front legs in the open ink, and starts to draw the scene that he sees out the window. The picture Marvin creates is beautiful, but James¿ family thinks that he was the one who drew it. James discovers Marvin¿s talent, and they even figure out how to communicate with each other. Their friendship grows as they become involved with helping to solve an art theft at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and during the adventure they both learn the value of honesty.This is an adorable book. The friendship between James and Marvin is one of the most touching ones I¿ve ever read about. Kelly Murphy¿s illustrations of Marvin and the pictures he creates are one of my favorite parts of this book. If you like mysteries about art like Chasing Vermeer and the sequels, or books about animals, you¿ll love Masterpiece!
mad. on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was cute and had some really intresting things about art and art forgeries. The whole art thing was very clever but the idea of a beetle and his mini paintings wasn't as good. Overall I liked her other book "Shakespeare's Secret" better.