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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  5,060 ratings  ·  601 reviews
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 the...more
Audio CD, Unabridged
Published September 30th 2008 by Macmillan Young Listeners (first published February 29th 2000)
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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
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
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
Lars Guthrie
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
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
Cheryl in CC NV
CC has it as YA, the ten other copies in ILL are as Juvenile. I agree with the majority. Anyway, it's a worthy read (or read aloud together) for ages 8 to 14 and those who can access an inner child of that age. More complex, exciting, and rich than The Mouse and the Motorcycle and its companions, but not quite as lucid and endearing either. Nice author's note, too.

And I like this observation about traveling: "When you saw different parts of the world, you saw different parts of yourself. And whe...more
Rick Riordan
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 Square. Check it out.
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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
Bob Redmond
This is the story of a beetle who befriends a boy by drawing some pen-and, ahem, antenna-and-ink pictures.

It's in the spirit of CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE, with cute drawings and a relationship between an insect and a boy. There's also an art-history lesson, a theft, and a drama that plays out in the Met. Hey, could this be another FROM THE MIXED-UP-FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, another (with Selden's CRICKET) Newberry-award winner?

No. This book is constructed, VERY constructed, to be just li...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
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
Jul 18, 2009 Becky rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
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.
Cheryl Klein
This book displays all of the virtues of a really well-written novel for children in the classical mode: an interesting story that shows young readers more of the world; simple, elegant writing; a child character who does things, doesn't just think about them; wisdom in its telling. A wonderful book.
This was really 3 1/2 and Walt liked it just fine, I just found it somewhat pedestrian. I did appreciate learning more about Albrecht Durer, but I think some of the detail about art and museums and art theft went over Walt's head. Still it was a fine read aloud, just nothing special.
Marvin is a beetle with a gift. He lives with his family in the walls of a New York City apartment, where one night he finds art supplies and discovers his artistic gift by drawing an amazing picture of the scene outside the window. While the boy, James, who lives in the apartment knows that it's Marvin's drawing, his parents think he's the artistic genius. Confusion over the identity of the true artist ends up leading James (with Marvin hidden up his sleever) to the Metropolitan Museum, where t...more
Aquest llibre és una altra petita joia treta de la biblioteca, que no tenia massa clar si m'agradaria, però que m'ha sorprès enormement.

D'acord, és un llibre que es podria catalogar d'infantil, però té moltes coses que fan que el llibre el pugui llegir qualsevol adult.

La història ens l'explica un petit escarabat, en Marvin, que viu amb la seva família a la cuina de la família d'en James. Tota la història està explicada des del punt de vista d'en Marvin, que resulta ser un geni de la pintura i és...more
I starte reading this book with my 6 year old daughter. It challenges her and it has created a curiosity for art. The interweaving of art and history made this a joy for me as well.
Amy Musser
This is the story of an artist. But not just any artist. A beetle artist. His name is Marvin and he lives in the apartment owned by the Pompaday family in New York City. Of course, Marvin doesn’t know he was an artist until James Pompaday gets a pen and ink set for his birthday. Marvin creates a marvelously detailed picture that everyone is convinced was made by James. Soon boy and beetle become involved in a clever plan to help the Metropolitan Art Museum catch a serial art thief.

Written from M...more
Emma White
Masterpiece is an amazing book. It's about a boy who finds a cockroach in the cabnit who can make a picture that looks like a familiar painter or artist picture.
I enjoyed the story and the characters but I wasn't amazed( as I was hoping to be). Abel loved the book (he's 9) and perhaps it's hard for me to judge as an adult. I felt Broach did a poor job on resolving the main problem in the book (James' lie about his artistic ability) and I think she was a bit heavy-handed on Christine's loving nature that James so clearly lacks in his life. Like one Amazon reviewer commented "the message is a bit muddy" and I think Broach should have done a better job in...more

A very unusual book, it has everything you will need to love this book.
El Templo de las Mil Puertas
Vivir debajo de un fregadero es el sueño de todo escarabajo.

Y si no que se lo digan a Marvin, que habita en un cálido, húmedo y mohoso agujero debajo de la pila de la cocina de los Pompaday. Y, aunque es un sitio perfecto para vivir, Marvin es un escarabajo inquieto que siente curiosidad por el mundo exterior y se pregunta qué habrá más allá de ese apartamento de Nueva York.

Los señores Pompaday y el pequeño William no deberían enterarse jamás de que toda una familia de escarabajos vive en su co...more
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
James is having a really terrible 11th birthday. His mom has invited kids he doesn’t even know to his birthday party. All James really wants is for his father to come and finally, at the end, he does - bringing with him a pen and ink drawing set as a gift.

Observing all of this from the safety of a very tiny hiding place is Marvin, a beetle that lives in the kitchen cupboard. Marvin has watched the awful birthday party and the sad look on James’ face. Marvin is determined to give James a really g...more
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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
More about Elise Broach...
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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! ” 62 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.” 17 likes
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