Sunday, November 23, 2008

Masterpiece by Elise Broach

A boy, a beetle, and an art heist make for an entertaining read in this fast-paced mystery.

Marvin the beetle has a talent for painting, and he lives under 11-year-old James's kitchen sink. His family does not understand his need to interact with humans.

James lives in New York City and on a birthday trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marvin's miniture drawing is discovered, and now Marvin and James are involved with helping to solve an art theft. But can James help the museum without his new beetle friend being discovered? And how long can he keep up the lie that he drew Marvin's marvelous painting?

I am not normally a fan of talking animal books. Watership Down? Never read it--bunnies talk. Redwall? Nope--warring mice. But I loved Masterpiece, it has a talking animal, well insect, but there are plenty of humans to keep me interested. You fear for their survival in the human world. This is a finely crafted emotional story. You feel for James as he struggles to please his parents, but who don't really see him until they think he has a newfound talent for art. You feel for Marvin, you is just a bit different in his passions than the other beetles, a little bit more adventurous, and who wants more than the average beetle life.

This book is a wonderful follow-up to Shakespeare's Secret. I look forward to more of Broach's offerings.

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