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Masterpiece by Elise Broach
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Masterpiece (edition 2010)

by Elise Broach, Kelly Murphy (Illustrator)

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7208613,085 (3.99)8
Member:akrause
Title:Masterpiece
Authors:Elise Broach
Other authors:Kelly Murphy (Illustrator)
Info:Square Fish (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, art, friendship, novel, gr. 5-8

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Masterpiece by Elise Broach

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Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
First, an important note to my readers: Two months ago I fell off a horse (during my third and final horse-back riding lesson), spraining my left and dominant hand. We went to the doctor and got a wrist brace which helped it get better, but in the last two weeks it has become painful once more and so I'm under orders not to use it for anything. Sadly, that "anything" includes typing. I'm left to do my school-work and blog writing either one-handed or with my computer's pretty faulty dictation device. So if I miss a typo here or there, just let me know in the comments and I'll fix it.

Anyway, on to the review.
I read this book for the first time several years ago, back when I was actually part of the target audience. The first time I read it, I picked it up because I had loved Shakespeare's Secret by the same author. I didn't really know what to expect with this one, but once I got into this book, I was enthralled. Now, a few years later, I am not quite as in love as I was the first time (and caught a couple logistical issues that escaped my notice the first time), but it is still the fun, sweet story I remember - and even cuter than I thought it was!

I'm not really going to nit-pick through this one. The fact that the beetles are so similar to humans requires a leap of faith (I mean, Marvin has an uncle who fixes the electronic devices when they malfunction!), but the charming picture of a tiny family living in the walls and mimicking the lives of the larger inhabitants is indubitably an appealing one to elementary and middle school-aged children. You only have to look at the success of The Littles and The Borrowers to see this. Stuart Little and The Cricket in Time's Square are some more successful additions to this sub-genre about tiny people or animals who behave like people. Masterpiece joins the ranks of these stretch-of-the-imagination classics with all the charm that can be desired, if not all the logic (at one point Marvin can't see and knows he's in an elevator because of the swooping feeling in his stomach - how can this pubescent beetle who has never left home before possibly know what it feels like to be in an elevator?).
The story is told third person past tense from Marvin's point of view. Marvin is the hero of this book, no doubt about it. It's his decisions that carry the story, starting with his impulsive present to James. Marvin doesn't really have much unique characterization. The novelty is in what Marvin is and what he can do, not who Marvin is. Marvin is pretty straight-forward (kind, curious, artistic, etc), and you can't help but automatically be on his side.

James, the main human character in the book, is just as nice as Marvin, and is also very perceptive. James is probably my favorite character in the book not only because of his shy kindness, but because his mother and step-father walk all over him and you can't help but be on his side. Even James's real father Karl (divorced from James's mother several years before the book begins) seems oblivious to James's real desires in life: he gives James a pen and ink set for his birthday, clueless to the fact that James can't even draw. James doesn't throw a fit about getting a pen and ink set for his birthday (which is what most bratty kids in today's MG would do). He thanks his dad with as much enthusiasm as he can muster, and goes upstairs to start testing the kit out. See why I like this kid? There have been too many self-absorbed MCs lately, and I enjoyed reading a book with two kind and even compassionate main characters. Maybe I should read younger kid books more often.

As for the plot, it's a fun adventure through art, history, and museum security with a clever twist ending. As I mentioned above, James's parents are divorced. It's handled neatly throughout the book, and younger readers will quickly catch on to the fact that James's parents just weren't compatible because of their completely different approaches to life. While I may not agree with the idea of "incompatibility" divorce, there's no fault in the way it's handled.

Now, I keep saying this is a book for younger kids. This is true, but keep in mind: it's 292 pages long. It packs quite a heft for a middle grade book, so be careful that you only give it to kids who've got some endurance training under their belt. Also, older people are not excluded from reading it. I'm a high school junior and I read it, and I'm even admitting to reading it online! ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
In this chapter book best ages would be 3-5 grade. This book has messages such as divorce and trying hard to be the best that the younger students wouldn't understand as much but for older students it would be a nice way to introduce it. This could be a read aloud and the teacher could ask for predictions and what James and Marvin are going to do. This is a great way to integrate the arts and introduce artists such as Durer. This book has a focus on different artists and teachers could incorporate art projects or lessons with this.
  jrudnick | Feb 22, 2016 |
After Marvin, a beetle, makes a miniature drawing as an eleventh birthday gift for James, a human with whom he shares a house, the two new friends work together to help recover an Albrecht Dürer drawing stolen from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  lkmuir | Dec 7, 2015 |
I loved how the plot unfolded, how the relationship developed between a young boy and a house beetle. It was interesting how nothing seemed out of the ordinary until you really sat and thought about it, ad thoght, hey! beetles can't talk! The charactor development was really thurough and well written, down to all the little details. There was a great apreciation for art in this book as well, which I found to be really interesting and educational. I loved the art and art history aspect of the story, you learn about Durer, and how to look at art, and how art effects people. This is also a page turner and mystery that gets solved at the very end. it was really thrilling, and touching, and a great book about friendship as well. .Highly recommended!
  ssho2 | Mar 9, 2015 |
A story of friendship between a boy and a beetle. My favorite lines in the story: "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." ( )
  MomsterBookworm | Jul 14, 2014 |
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Epigraph
"Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. When we haven't time, and to see makes time-like to have a friend takes time."
-Georgia O'Keeffe
Dedication
For Zoe, Harry, and Grace
First words
Home, for Marvin's family, was a damp corner of the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805082700, Hardcover)

Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. He is very much a beetle. James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy.After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer. But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help. And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). This fast-paced mystery will have young readers on the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle.
 
In Shakespeare’s Secret Elise Broach showed her keen ability to weave storytelling with history and suspense, and Masterpiece is yet another example of her talent. This time around it’s an irresistible miniature world, fascinating art history, all wrapped up in a special friendship— something for everyone to enjoy.
 
Masterpiece is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:11 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

After Marvin, a beetle, makes a miniature drawing as an eleventh birthday gift for James, a human with whom he shares a house, the two new friends work together to help recover a Durer drawing stolen from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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