Bob Redmond's Reviews > Masterpiece

Masterpiece by Elise Broach
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's review
May 02, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: young-adult
Read in April, 2009

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 like those literary masterpieces. It has lessons about friendship and family. It happens in New York, the Most Amazing City in the World, don't you just wish you lived in that nice neighborhood on the upper East Side?

Besides my class-warfare objections, here are more: there's no emotional heart to this story. The characters are good ideas, like a marketing plan is a good idea. The story lacks duende--soul. I bet the movie rights are long bought and sold, but this book is full of cardboard characters who say and do the right things--they are exactly like the "fake" mom and dad in Gaimain's CORALINE, and nothing like any character in Christopher Paul Curtis' ELIJAH OF BUXTON. This is ultimately more a product than a story.

WHY I READ THIS BOOK: I got this at a book industry conference last year, and just got around to reading it. The publisher touted it with one of those "Dear book-buyer" personal letters, saying "I can't wait to read this to my kids."

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