Masterpiece by Elise Broach
(Henry Holt, Hardcover)
Marvin is a beetle. A beetle who can swim and draw. When James, the boy in whose house Marvin lives, gets a pen and ink set for his birthday, Marvin can't help but try it out after James goes to sleep. Marvin's life changes when James wakes up to discover Marvin painting. James' parents think that James painted the delicate drawing and take him to an art museum. There, James is recruited to duplicate a famous painting in order to catch art thieves. Before they know it, James and Marvin are caught up in art heist.
Masterpiece is written for middle readers, a younger audience than what I normally review here. It's an excellent book though and perfect for younger siblings or cousins. What little kid can resist an adventure? And Marvin is definitely caught up in a mystery that will capture the attention of young readers. There are art lessons sneakily inserted into the story, so it's not only an exciting read but also an educational one. I never thought I could love a beetle, but Marvin captured my heart.
Masterpiece has been nominated for the 2008 Cybils Awards in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category.