Masterpiece of museum fiction

January 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

Masterpiece by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy; published by Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company; New York; 2008.

The end pages include maps of the Pompaday’s kitchen; their cupboard, to be exact, with notes of where the relatives live.  Whose relatives live behind a kitchen cupboard?  Marvin, the beetle’s family, that’s whose.  Marvin is a talented beetle—he can swim and he can create works of art.  He discovered his gift for art when creating a birthday gift for a human boy, James.  James lives with his mother, step-father and baby brother.  But his real adventures lie in his friendship with Marvin and their daring adventure to save priceless art stolen from the Met Museum.  Truly, this book is about friendship and valuing small gifts.

The story is beautifully written in language appropriate for upper elementary aged children.  Murphy’s sketches enhance the story.  Including illustrations in this book helps to break up the text for those children starting to read longer chapter books.

Ironically, I read this book after reviewing The Walker museum’s Portrait Detectives website.  I would pair this book with that website and the Met’s website (they have works by Durer and Bellini on their timeline of art history).  In fact, I think I would create a pathfinder that pairs books like this and Chasing Vermeer with art websites and non-fiction print materials.

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Entry filed under: ALSC Notable Winner, Mystery, Science Fiction or Fantasy. Tags: , , , , , .

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