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Masterpiece Hardcover – September 30, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–8—Broach combines discussion about the art of Albrecht Dürer with a powerful tale of friendship in a novel that is entertaining and full of adventure. Marvin is a beetle, and he and his family live in the Manhattan kitchen that belongs to the Pompaday family. When James receives a pen-and-ink drawing set for his 11th birthday, Marvin discovers that he is a bug with artistic talent. Although he can't speak to James, they soon bond in a true interspecies friendship, and their escapades begin. Because of Marvin's wonderful drawing, presumed to be James's work, the boy is recruited to create a fake Dürer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to help trap an art thief. Marvin produces the forgery, but he soon realizes that the original artwork is in danger. Only by placing his life on the line and relying on James's help can he save the masterpiece. Broach's projection of beetle life, complete with field trips to the family's solarium and complex uses of human discards for furniture and meals, is in the best tradition of Mary Norton's The Borrowers (Harcourt, 1953) and similar classic looks at miniature life. Murphy's illustrations add perspective and humor, supporting the detailed narrative. A masterpiece of storytelling.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
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James lives an invisible existence in a grand apartment on the Upper East Side. His mother, busy with her new husband and baby and her climb up the Manhattan social ladder, has little time for him. By contrast, Marvin, a beetle whose overprotective, extended family resides behind James’ mother’s kitchen, gets more attention than he wants. The two find friendship when James’ artist father gives him a pen-and-ink set, and Marvin discovers his talent for “drawing,” crafting delicate, museum-quality miniatures with his legs. When Marvin and James find themselves embroiled in a plot to steal a Dürer drawing from the Metropolitan Museum, they must find creative ways to communicate to foil the thieves and protect the masterpiece. Murphy’s own pen-and-ink spot art reflects the text’s sweet insouciance. With suspense, art history, complex family relationships (human and arthropod), and a resonant friendship, this enjoyable outing will satisfy the reserved and adventurous alike. Grades 3-6. --Thom Barthelmess
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This book by Elise Broach made me read it multiple times because it was that good.
It has the balance between adventure and mystery.Read more