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Masterpiece

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3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,258 Ratings  ·  690 Reviews
Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays' apartment. He is very much a beetle. James 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. Then James ends up with all the credit, and is expected to do it ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Turtleback Books (first published February 29th 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kathryn
Jun 28, 2013 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 passa ...more
Kathi
Feb 16, 2009 Kathi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Lars Guthrie
Dec 10, 2010 Lars Guthrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E.B. 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 Square’ 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 r
...more
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
The central story of Marvin and Jame's friendship and the art heist are tender/thrilling 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 te ...more
Raina
Mar 23, 2009 Raina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 before.
Old-fashioned (includes some illustrations), cool art element, appeals to lovers of the borrowers. Engaging, nonthreatening and sweet. Worth booktal
...more
Penny McGill
This book was wonderful in so many ways - we all just loved it. It was fun to read aloud and we couldn't wait to see how it ended. The story takes a very strange turn so it was tough to read it and not stop over and over to say things like "What is going on NOW?" and that made it even more fun. We needed a pause button on my voice, if that were at all possible.

Saying this book is about a boy with a beetle for a friend is really not enough. It has the beauty of Charlotte's Web in it because the i
...more
Kristen Lo
Mar 18, 2015 Kristen Lo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s
While most kids chapter books that I like are set in some fantasy/surreal world with their own rules, Masterpiece is set in reality (ok, despite the fact that a beetle and a boy become friends). It's a fun story with twists that I didn't see coming, doesn't patronize its reader, and it's messy-- divorced parents, kid with no friends, etc.-- so it was a nice introduction to my son that life can turn out well even when it gets complicated. I can't wait to read Ms. Broach's other work with my boys.
Jen
Masterpiece is the story of a boy and his beetle. Eleven year old James lives with his mom, stepdad and baby brother in an apartment on the Upper West Side of NYC; Marvin the beetle lives in the wall behind their kitchen sink. Through remarkable circumstances, James and Marvin end up as friends helping to foil a great art heist. This great read aloud gives us peeks into several worlds: that Roald Dahl world of clever children with adults who don't always pay attention; the beetle world in which ...more
Louis Galligani
Dec 18, 2015 Louis Galligani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good book! I love the aspects of friendship and suspense that happen in this book. Also the ending was exciting and unexpected. I would recommend this book to people who like suspenseful books with an exciting plot. This book reminds me of The Tale of Despereaux because in both the books a small animal befriends a human, and experiences the human world. Overall this is a book with good story line that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat waiting to see what is happening ne ...more
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
A very cute story. I wasn't sure I'd like a book about a boy and a beetle, but I did. I admired the friendship that develops between them. I also enjoyed learning about the artist Albrecht Durer and art heists. I had no idea there was such a thing as art stealing criminals!

I also appreciated the humor in this novel, such as the following:
"It must be Denny's mail, Marvin thought. He knew a little about the human system of mail, because Papa had explained it to him several weeks ago, when, tragica
...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Marvin is a small black beetle who lives in James' family's house. He and his family live in hollowed out rooms behind the kitchen sink, and keep the plumbing and wiring in repair to prevent a handyman from discovering their existence.

Marvin likes James, who is a decent kid, and feels sorry for him, because James doesn't get much attention from his remarried mom, who's more interested in selling expensive Manhattan apartments than him.

So when James gets a pen and ink set from his father for his
...more
Zoe
Dec 26, 2011 Zoe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
This book is a charming concept, and a wonderful bridge for kids who like animal stories, but maybe need to get into literature a bit more. It was a read aloud to my 8 year old, but would be an enjoyable read-to-self for a ten year old. There are lots of large words here, some of which need to be explained, but the protagonist is young and approachable.
On the surface this story is about a beetle and his family who live an apartment with the Pompaday's, most notably the ignored son James. A frie
...more
Becky
Jul 18, 2009 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ages 9-12
Shelves: tweens, mystery
Masterpiece is about a boy, a beetle, and an art mystery. That's a pretty strange plot for a book, but it works out well in this story, which is very enjoyable and the pace keeps you reading until the end. Marvin the beetle lives with his family in the Pompadays' apartment. When James, the young boy who lives there, gets a pen and ink set for his birthday, Marvin stumbles upon it one night and makes an unusually good, detailed drawing. James finds out it was Marvin, and they strike up a unique f ...more
Ruth Ruiz
May 04, 2014 Ruth Ruiz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ele-495a
This YA Fantasy book was a pleasant surprise. I was immediately engaged in the first chapter which was titled "Family Emergency". This book is about a family of beetles who live in a wall in the Pompaday's apartment. Marvin, a beetle, begins a friendship with the Pompaday's son James. I love how the story starts out very innocent with a beetle and his family just watching the day to day activities of the humans whose apartment they live in. Then to my surprise it turns into an adventure and myst ...more
Bina
Jul 08, 2008 Bina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone!
What a delightful book. A lowly beetle with an artistic gift soon finds himself in the middle of an art forgery plot--all to help a lonely young boy of the human kind. The clever plotting never becomes cutesy as James the boy learns to understand his beetle friend Marvin. Albrecht Durer, the Met, and various art historians are key to this story, but it is really James's longing to be noticed and Marvin's desire to help that drive the story.
Smartly written with lots of artistic and literary allus
...more
Catherine
Aug 24, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I were leaning toward recommending to a child a mystery/unlikely friendship story that also features a healthy dose of art history, I will allow my eyes to scan a few shelves past 'J Fic Balliett' and go for this one instead. It's a difficult premise to pull off--a beetle the size of a grain of rice befriends an 11-year old boy and they are both drawn into an art-theft intrigue involving Albrecht Durer (sorry for the missing umlaut)--and the author does it charmingly. I only wish that Durer h ...more
Carrie
Jan 29, 2016 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
This was a family listen, though one of my kids had read it before. Though it is geared toward middle readers (grades 3-5) it was still an enjoyable story and made me think twice before carelessly swatting a bug. Like a Cricket in Times Square, this story presents a talented lovable insect who is able to interact with humans. Marvin is a beetle living in the Pompaday family's NYC apartment. When 11-year-old James gets an ink drawing set from his artistic father, Marvin and James' friendship begi ...more
Doreen Cavazza
I read this story to my daughter at bedtime. I found it to be a fun story, though slow at times. The author has an affinity for adverbs, so much so it became daunting -- for example: "Karl said softly." "Marvin screamed silently", "He said quietly". After a short time, the adverbs stuck out like a Christmas tree in a swimming pool. There were some run-on sentences which went on for almost a paragraph. Some of the descriptions were long and labored, and repeat information became tedious. But, all ...more
Joey Zadina
Apr 14, 2015 Joey Zadina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Masterpiece is a great fantasy book because there is Marvin who is a beetle living under the sink of a New York City apartment that is home to an eleven year old boy, James, and his family. Marvin and James become friends throughout the story, which in itself is touching, but what is more touching to me is that Marvin is just a small beetle; and he tries to help James' life in any way possible. Of course, there is one way in which Marvin really helps James to gain acceptance from those around hi ...more
Christian Wallace
Personal Reaction- This book was one of the first book's that I have read that reminded me of the joy of childhood. I enjoyed almost every aspect of this book. The plot moved well and it never left me bored or confused. The characters are all very interesting, especially Marvin the beetle. Marvin and his family live under the Pompaday's kitchen sink minding their own business, but unlike his family, Marvin wants to experience more in life. Marvin's dynamic character is an obvious reason that thi ...more
Zahava Davis
Apr 13, 2015 Zahava Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personal Response:
I found this book very cute and perfect for older elementary students. The easy connection with bugs, made it so much more realistic and fun to picture. The main characters, Marvin and James, are adorably personable because of their lovable traits and genuine interaction. It's a great book for exploring the imagination about another world smaller than our own! And it touches on sensitive topics in a subtle and appropriate way, such as family issues.
Purposes:
Read aloud- This fan
...more
Anna Korroch
Apr 13, 2015 Anna Korroch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this was a very entertaining and creative story. I loved the idea of a boy befriending a tiny beetle and them going on many adventures together. I also enjoyed that there was a mixture of worlds and perspectives between the human world and the beetle world. I thought it was cute that Marvin and James became friends even though they could not verbally communicate with each other. I think that this story uses a good mix of humor and suspense to draw in the reader.

I think this book
...more
Anna Frame
Apr 05, 2015 Anna Frame rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PERSONAL REACTION
I loved this book. I would recommend it to everyone. Students will not want to put it down. The author does a great job of keeping the readers attention and the story takes turns that you would not predict. Marvin goes on so many adventures and it is a blast to be along side him for the experience. His artistic ability is incredible and I loved reading about him help his friend James.

PURPOSE/USE IN CLASSROOM
-this could be read as a group or independently (it could be fun as a gr
...more
Bennett
Nov 17, 2015 Bennett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle schoolers
Recommended to Bennett by: library
Shelves: ok-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shevani Srinivasan
Masterpiece
by Elise Broach
This unique fantasy novel is about a beetle named Marvin who has an amazing talent for art. He lives with his family in secrecy with a family who has a boy named James. Find out what happens when James takes Marvin to an art museum, will Marvin be back home safe? The book was suspenseful when Marvin revealed that he drew the painting to James. The book has a creative plot and upturning events. The book is appropriate for middle schoolers who enjoy fantasy novels.
Ingrid Fasquelle
Elise Broach est née en Géorgie aux États-Unis. Diplômée de la prestigieuse université américaine, Yale, elle enseigne un temps avant de se consacrer uniquement à l'éducation de ses enfants et à l'écriture.

Un drôle d'ami raconte l'histoire d'amitié hors normes entre James, un petit garçon timide, écrasé par une mère à l'ambition dévorante, et Marvin, un gentil petit cafard, qui a élu domicile avec le reste de sa famille sous l'évier de la cuisine.

Alors que la fête d'anniversaire de James est un
...more
Kaley Robinson
Masterpiece is about a roach, Marvin, who lives in a house where James's family lives. James gets an inset for his birthday and leaves it out on his desk because he wants to try it out to make his dad happy. While James is sleeping, Marvin begins to draw a picture for James when he wakes up. After a series of events, James and Marvin recover missing masterpieces and return to a normal bug and boy. One thing I liked about this book was that it was difficult to tell where the magic was. At times I ...more
Virginia
Dec 06, 2015 Virginia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masterpiece, by Elise Broach, is based on a beetle named Marvin, and his adventures he goes on with an eleven year old boy named James. They meet each other for the first time when Marvin draws James a picture for his birthday. His mother, Mrs. Pompaday, and his dad, Karl both think that James drew the picture and are eager to show it to other people. When James and Marvin learn that they must try to exactly copy a picture for the museum in order to stop the original from being stolen, Marvin mu ...more
Lynn
Sep 11, 2008 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very nice mystery with some interesting themes neatly woven into the story. Two youngsters, one a human named James and the other a beetle named Marvin join forces to prevent an art theft. Along the way they become friends, overcoming Marvin's inability to speak or write human. Both learn a lot about themselves and their abilities and form a lasting friendship.
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Elise Broach is the New York Times bestselling author of children's books including Masterpiece, Shakespeare's Secret, Desert Crossing, Missing on Superstition Mountain (the first book in the Superstition Mountain Trilogy) as well as several picture books. Her books have been selected as ALA notable books, Junior Library Guild selections, a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book, a New York Public ...more
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“A person's birthday should be a special day, a wonderful day, a day of pure celebration for the luck of being born! ” 65 likes
“A great friendship was like a great work of art, he thought. It took time and attention, and a spark of something that was impossible to describe. It was a happy, lucky accident, finding some kindred part of yourself in a total stranger.” 19 likes
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