Sunday, October 17, 2010

Masterpiece Review

Book Talk: Marvin lives with his family underneath the kitchen sink.  He may be a beetle, but he doesn't let that hold him back: he longs to go exploring and has even taught himself how to swim.  Life as a beetle can be dangerous, though, and he and his family have to make sure that the family who lives in the apartment doesn't discover them or they may be exterminated.  Marvin is determined to present the boy of the family, James, with a proper birthday present, however.  So, after James goes to sleep Marvin uses the ink set James' dad gave him to draw James an exquisite picture.  This leads Marvin to do the unthinkable and show himself to a human, but instead of squashing Marvin, James befriends him.  That doesn't mean that they're out of trouble, though.  When Marvin's parents see the painting, they think he drew it, and eventually this small deception turns into a plot to catch a thief that endangers both of their lives.

Rocks My Socks:  I love that the story is told from the perspective of a beetle.  It's a fun and unique perspective that you don't see that often.  I'm also always a sucker for stories that glorify the little guy because I can readily identify with them.  James doesn't have a typical home life: his parents are divorced and his mother has re-married and had another child, and the relationship between them isn't always smooth.  It's good to read stories about non-traditional families.  The plot of the art theft is engrossing and fascinating.  My favorite part of the story, though, was the relationship between James and Marvin.  It's heart-warming without being saccharine and leads them both to grow and discover new things about themselves, as all great friendships do.

Rocks In My Socks: The book is billed as a mystery, but I don't think that the mystery is really the central plot element.  The mystery does pick up a bit towards the end and lead to some more fast-paced action, but if anything this made the book feel a bit uneven to me.  The human adults also seemed a bit unrealistic to me and suffer from the popular juvenile fiction sickness of Useless Adult Syndrome to some degree. 

Every Book Its Reader: Ages 8 and up.  Both the main characters are boys, but the book is pretty gender neutral.  Great fun for any gender or age!  I think it would make a great read-aloud for a class.  I would especially recommend it to anyone with an interest in the art world, but really this kind of light-hearted adventure could be enjoyed by anyone. 

Masterpiece by Elise Broach

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