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3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  6,829 Ratings  ·  737 Reviews
Chinese edition of Masterpiece by Elise Broach, the 2008 EB White Read Aloud winner for When Dinosaurs Came With Everything. Marvin the beetle and his friend James go on an adventure to thwart a heist of a masterpiece from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is also a story of complicated family relationships and art history told through humor and masterful ink drawing. In ...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Xiao Tian Xia/Tsai Fong Books (first published September 2008)
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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
Aug 13, 2010 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
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
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
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
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Jan 03, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-fiction
This is a delightful book. The first few chapters were lacking in originality (similar to The Borrowers and Stuart Little), but the author moved beyond that into something creative. I read Terry Pratchett's books about tiny beings, and they were so blatantly derivative of The Borrowers that I couldn't even enjoy them; not the case here. (I also decided that there are some situations that just come naturally when you're talking about tiny creatures in a world of humans. Just as human parents warn ...more
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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
Nov 17, 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
May 06, 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
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
May 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
Ruth Ruiz
May 02, 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
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.
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
Shevani Srinivasan
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.
Cheryl Klein
Dec 06, 2008 Cheryl Klein rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 27, 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.
Aug 12, 2013 Eowyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Emma White
Apr 10, 2013 Emma White rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 27, 2011 Marci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rose Ann
3.5 stars

Read with my son for a family book club.

Cute story.
Oct 04, 2012 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A very unusual book, it has everything you will need to love this book.
Stephanie Schneidewind
Drew and I are living this!
Jan 19, 2017 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
(Part of my school's Book Club list) This was an entertaining book but not anything too remarkable. The premise was unusual--boy and beetle become friends and work together to thwart an art thief--and the author did a nice job convincing me that something so ridiculous could actually happen. It was fun to read the descriptions of the beetle's home and way of life: his family takes day trips to the solarium by hitching a ride on the bottom of the vacuum on cleaning days, as it would be too far to ...more
Jen Leffers
Jan 23, 2017 Jen Leffers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this with my kids (Kinder and 2nd) because it was an all school book for their elementary school. We liked it and laughed out loud many times. Was a bit confusing to follow for the little guys who didn't know anything about forgery or art theft but it was a catalyst for great conversation.
Gail Morris
Dec 02, 2016 Gail Morris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a great adventure story; I enjoyed the bug's eye view of the world under the sink and across the tile floor or through the deep carpet.
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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! ” 68 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.” 21 likes
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