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Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays' apartment He is very much a beetle James lives with his mother stepfather and baby brother 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're caught up in an art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could lead them to a famous long lost drawing by Albrecht Durer But James can't go through with the plan without Marvin's help And that is where things get really complicated and interesting This fast paced mystery about stolen art forgery and friendship will have readers at the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle


10 thoughts on “Masterpiece

  1. says:

    “The most important things in a friendship didn't have to be said out loud” Did you think that beetles were unpleasant little creatures whose only talent was to steal scraps of food scare your mom and supposedly survive a nuclear apocalypse? Well think again because Marvin the beetle has one very special talent he is an illustrator That's right he can draw miniatures with incredible talent and this unusual ability will catapult him and his human friend James into an incredible adventureThis book was cute and funny with a wholesome message about the values of respect justice friendship and truth It reminded me very much of the movie Ratatouille which I love The story itself was a little dull and sometimes it felt like the author was dragging it a little bit by inserting some unrelated events just to make it longer But overall what made this book so enjoyable for me was the artwork I absolutely adore the illustrations of this book and I think the artist Kelly Murphy has a great talent I would love to see some of her other works This is exactly the kind of illustration I like in children's books and it made this one three times interesting for me I think I wouldn't even read it if it wasn't for the artwork; but I also think that for a child it would definitely be an interesting story if only a little boring sometimes but for the rest packed with action Also Marvin is adorable


  2. says:

    I read this book out loud in the car while my friend and fellow author Kathy Whitehead and I drove across the Texas plains from Abilene to College Station The rhythm of the prose the pacing the language all come together to create the perfect read aloud I also want to add that there are some small bits of humor throughout that I think might be lost in silent reading But Kathy and I found ourselves laughing out loud in dozens of subtle spots Well done Ms Broach The story is surprising and suspenseful and readers of all ages will gain a new appreciation for art art history and beetles not to mention the most important aspect of the book friendshipI feel lucky that in fact I got to share it with a friend Made it all the meaningful Yes This book is a keeper


  3. says:

    An engaging story that is part art heist and part The Borrowers with a dash of Metamorphosis Both boy and beetle here are so sweet and endearing I read this when I was pregnant with my son and it is one I would definitely like to share with him when he is older A few parts of the art heist seemed a bit too neat and tidy and sometimes the jump from beetle world to human world was a bit discordant but overall I really enjoyed the story and loved out protagonists Also has some of the best passages I've ever read about the creative process and muse And a nice father son story too


  4. says:

    The central story of Marvin and Jame's friendship and the art heist are tenderthrilling in turns There is a problem with the pacing when too much time is spent on tangential details too many lists of things that the beetles do or eat or the beetle's lifestyle for example that turtle in the tank chapter does not move the plot along does not come into play later in the story Some trimming and tightening of the plot would have made this one of the better mysteries for children but the tension and momentum is often interrupted by the need to preach I think young readers would have the faculty to deduce some of the messages by the behaviors and thoughts of the participants in the story without being told overtly by the narratorI am not sure how I feel about the gray areas regarding the art theft and the whole lying about Marvin's pictures part especially the resolution of this aspect is that James had to suffer a pretty serious handbone injury On the one hand I like that the bad guys get away James was never found out and Denny is still at large This is not all about Justice It is about the dilemmas that friendship often presents


  5. says:

    EB White George Selden Sophisticated little animals Manhattanites of yesteryear with their glib savoir faire and urban obtuseness Witty well chosen language It’s counterintuitive that it still sells ‘Stuart Little’ and ‘The Cricket in Times Suare’ still do thankfully People just won’t give up on literate if retrograde children’s literature because reading it particularly reading it aloud remains such a delight‘Masterpiece’ could have been published 50 years ago with hardly a raised eyebrow at anachronism It’s the story of a family of beetles they wouldn’t be cockroaches would they even if that is far likely who live under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ love that apartment James Pompaday an insecure eleven year old forms a secret friendship with the artistic member of the beetle family Marvin Because of Marvin’s skill James’s superficial mother and stepfather as well as his earnest estranged father—there’s something that might not have flown in 1960—come to believe that James can use pen and ink as adroitly as say Albrecht Durer It’s a clever premise that allows Elise Broach to introduce young readers to the world of medieval art curatorship and thrillingly to the history of art theft It’s up to James and especially Marvin to solve a most daring heist—from the New York Museum of Modern Art no lessMarvin James and the lovely MOMA caretaker Christina Balcony are an engaging trio of lead characters The Pompadays and Marvin’s family add some nice comic relief Kelly Murphy’s pen and ink illustrations are a perfect thematic match with the text a mystery that holds onto the necessary suspense and excitement Broach’s homage to White and Selden earns her a place on bookshelves next to them Recommended for fourth graders on up


  6. says:

    While in Wichita Falls I finished reading Masterpiece by Elise Broach A really fun read Boy meets beetle Beetle turns out to be a gifted artist Boy and beetle help foil a major art heist It's like a combination of Chasing Vermeer and Cricket in Times Suare Check it out


  7. says:

    Middle grade art heist mystery narrated by a beetle that can't talk or write in English though he can understand English and tell time I liked this middle grade story better than the derivative chapter book series featuring these same characters mainly because the author had room to develop the characters and their relationships Still I needed James and Marvin to grapple with James taking credit for Marvin's work and talent but that was glossed over too uickly and peacefully a lost opportunity to explore a gray area in a book focused on friendship Also the story dragged in places


  8. says:

    Cute story from the perspective of a beetle Imagines his life in the kitchen cabinet of a New York apartment and his friend with the boy who lives there Turns out Marvin our beetle friend is a fabulous artist skillful enough to imitate the greats Thus begins an art theft adventure with Marvin venturing further from his home than ever beforeOld fashioned includes some illustrations cool art element appeals to lovers of the borrowers Engaging nonthreatening and sweet Worth booktalking to the 5th 6th grade crowd


  9. says:

    I enjoyed reading this little book so much that I spread it out over a few days despite it being a typical late elementary school length So fun The characters are sweet James is darling and Marvin is wonderful too his little beetle family is also fun and the story charming I love the art heist storyline and thought the twists were great for kids Sure they're pretty predictable for adults but I am excited to read this one aloud to our kids soon It's a shame that Broach doesn't seem as well known but I think this book is a lighter younger version of the other anthropomorphized animal classics I just discovered that she made a series of these so I'm curious about those It'd be fun to read them all aloud in seuence if the subseuent ones are as fun


  10. says:

    What I liked about the story was the sweet relationship between the boy and the beetle There were a few parts of the story we got into but a lot of it we read just to get it done