I recently read Masterpiece by Elise Broach and was totally delighted with the story and the characters. Mother-daughter book clubs with daughters aged 9 and up should enjoy reading it—there’s a sprinkling of art history scattered among the broader theme of friendship, and you can even pair it with a trip to a museum. Here’s my review:
Masterpiece by Elise Broach is a delightful story of the unlikely friendship that develops between a lonely young boy named James and a beetle named Marvin. In the tradition of E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan, Broach takes this human/insect encounter out of the wild and into New York City, where Marvin lives with his parents and other relatives behind a kitchen cupboard in James’s home.
The two characters meet when Marvin draws an ink rendition of the skyline outside James’s window as a birthday present. When everyone thinks that James is the artist, of course he can’t tell them who really drew what’s being hailed as a masterpiece. The two are drawn into a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where officials hope to recover previously stolen masterpieces by a well known artist from the early Renaissance.
You’ll happily follow the adventures as James and Marvin work to unravel the complications of their deception while they learn the true value of art and friendship. The publisher, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, also features an excellent companion discussion guide on its Web site, www.HenryHoltKids.com.