Monday, July 9, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Masterpiece

Today’s pick: Masterpiece by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Henry Holt and Company, 2008

From the publisher’s website:
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.

My take:
I love reading about tiny creatures and their different perspective on our world, so I really enjoyed this story. It reminded me of one of my old favourites “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Seldon, because of the writing style and the sense of adventure. The idea of a beetle that draws and helps to solve the mystery of a famous stolen Durer drawing was fascinating. I’d love to draw as well as Marvin the beetle!

As a writer, I admired the way Elise Broach created a close relationship between the boy James and the beetle Marvin, especially when Marvin couldn’t communicate by talking.

Favourite quotes:
“The most important things in a friendship didn't have to be said out loud.”

“When you saw different parts of the world, you saw different parts of yourself.”

Other info:
Elise Broach lives in Connecticut but her favourite cities are New York and Paris.

Masterpiece has been recognized with the E.B. White Read Aloud Award by the Association of Booksellers for Children in 2009 and as an ALA Notable Book, as well as named the Best Children's Book of 2008 by Publisher's Weekly .

On her website, Elise Broach says: “It still amazes me—and seems an incredible privilege—to get paid for making up stories.”

Other books by this author:

Missing On Superstition Mountain, (Book I in the Superstition Mountain Trilogy), Henry Holt and Company, June 2011
 Desert Crossing,  Henry Holt and Company, May 2006
 Shakespeare’s Secret, Henry Holt and Company, May 2005

Picture Books:
Snowflake Baby,  Little, Brown, November 2011
Seashore Baby,  Little, Brown, April 2010
Gumption!, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, April 2010
When Dinosaurs Came With Everything, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, September 2007
Cousin John is Coming!, Dial Books for Young Readers, June 2006
Wet Dog!  Dial Books for Young Readers, May 2005
Hiding Hoover, Dial Books for Young Readers, July 2005
What the No-Good Baby is Good For, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, May 2005

For more, visit Elise Broach’s website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!


  1. oh, i LOVED this book! it was so quiet and sweet, and i could absolutely envision the delicate drawings that marvin made. a great choice :)

  2. It sounds like a combination of CHASING VERMEER and RATATOUILLE. I've read MISSING ON SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN, so I already like the author. I'll put it on my list!

  3. I also enjoy a different perspective--The One and Only Ivan is such a marvelous look at the world through different eyes.

    This sounds interesting; thank you for sharing about it.

    1. I really loved The One and Only Ivan.

  4. It is a funny coincidence that we both featured Elise Broach! Haven't read this one yet, but it sounds really good. And I love the quotation!

  5. Oh, I adored this book, especially Marvin and his perfect little drawings. I haven't read any of her other books, though. I'll have to look into them.

    (P.S. I don't think The Cricket In Times Square was written by E.B. White. He only wrote three books for kids.)

    1. Yeah, you're right - thanks! I should have checked that. I guess I was thinking of the illustrator, Garth Williams who did the illustrations for the E.B. White books and The Cricket in Times Square.

  6. I was not at all familiar with this author! Thanks for highlighting this and her other books. Will be sure to check them all out.

    p.s. could you send me your snail mail address so I can get your book out to you? justdeb AT debamarshall DOT com just back from holidays and can't find it....thanks!

  7. Thanks for sharing this book. I had not heard of it or the author. Sounds like an creative tale about friendship.

  8. I LOVED "A Cricket in Times Square" as a kid! Thanks for sharing this review. :)


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