Masterpiece – book review

by Elise Broach
* * * Stars (Pretty good)

Martin is a young beetle who lives in the walls of the Pompadays’ apartment in New York City. The beetles don’t think much of Mr. & Mrs. Pompaday or bouncing baby William, but they are quite fond of 11-year old James (Mrs. Pompaday’s son from a previous marriage). Martin wants to do something special for James on his birthday, so he uses James’ new drawing set to make him a picture. The tiny, precise drawing is much like the style of Albrecht Dürer. James loves it, but when the Pompadays and his father Karl see the drawing, they think he made it. There’s no way he can explain (nor does Martin want any fame or notoriety) what really happened, so James allows them to believe this. Karl takes James to see the Dürer exhibition at the MET and shows a couple of the curators (Christina and his friend Denny) James’ drawing. Upon seeing it, Christina hatches an elaborate scheme to have James forge one of Dürer’s sketches to foil the plans of a Dürer-loving art thief. Martin becomes embroiled in their plans and manages to pull off an amazing forgery and discover the identity of the criminal. Martin and his family are pretty impressive for a bunch of beetles! Not only is Martin artistically talented, but he also manages to work out a way of communicating with James – despite not being able to write or understand written English. His ingenuity and their cooperation enable them to solve the mystery behind the Dürer heists. Unfortunately for James, he’s still stuck being a Pompaday, but he’s a resilient, good-natured kid and he doesn’t let it get him down. Exciting story! Kids will be searching their cabinets for beetles to befriend.

Reviewed by YA Librarian

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