The Miniature World of Marvin & James (Masterpiece Adventures #1)

by Elise Broach (Author) Kelly Murphy (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In this Masterpiece Adventure, the first in a companion series for younger readers from bestselling author Elise Broach, James is going on vacation for a week. His best friend, Marvin the beetle, has to stay at home. Without James to keep him company, Marvin has to play with his annoying cousin, Elaine. Marvin and Elaine quickly find themselves getting into all sorts of trouble--even getting trapped inside a pencil sharpener! Marvin misses James and starts to worry about their friendship. Will James still be Marvin's friend when he gets home or will James have found a new best friend?

A Christy Ottaviano Book

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Publishers Weekly

Broach and Murphy bring back James and his beetle best friend, Marvin--previously seen in 2008's acclaimed Masterpiece--in this first book in the Masterpiece Adventures series of chapter books. Their cross-species friendship is just right for a younger crowd, and so are the insecurities and frustrations Marvin is feeling as James prepares to go on a trip to the beach without him ("Marvin does not want to help James pack. But at least it is something they can do together"). James leaves in the first chapter and doesn't return until the fifth and final one; while he's away, Marvin goes exploring with his cousin Elaine, a journey that takes a genuinely harrowing turn when they get stuck in Mr. Pompaday's mechanical pencil sharpener. Murphy's pen-and-ink illustrations shift from glee to horror as she shows the bug-eyed beetles cannonballing into the soft pit of pencil shavings, only to have their escape route plugged by a pencil. Despite the simplicity of Broach's pared-down sentences, the story brims with both emotion and moments of quiet wisdom. Ages 6-9. (Feb.)

Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-4--In a companion to the acclaimed Masterpiece (Holt, 2008), best friends James (a boy) and Marvin (a beetle) are separated for a week while James goes on vacation. Marvin has to make do with his irritating cousin, Elaine. Their hijinks are highlighted in this charming and humorous chapter book series opener about friendship and adventure.

Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Page-turning adventure." —The Horn Book

"This winsome series debut is both a sweet story of cross-species friendship and a sobering new way to look at pencil sharpeners." —Kirkus Reviews

"Inventive . . . Broach . . . packs this fast-moving story with perennially seductive themes: hidden lives and secret friendships, miniature worlds lost to disbelievers . . . Broach and Kelly show readers something new." —Publishers Weekly, starred review on Masterpiece

"Delightful intricacies of beetle life . . . blend seamlessly with the suspenseful caper as well as the sentimental story of a complicated-but-rewarding friendship . . . Murphy's charming pen-and-ink drawings populate the short chapters of this funny, winsome novel." —Kirkus Reviews on Masterpiece

"This marvelous story is sure to be a hit." —School Library Journal on Masterpiece

"Despite the simplicity of Broach's pared-down sentences, the story brims with both emotion and moments of quiet wisdom." —Publishers Weekly, starred review on Masterpiece

Elise Broach
Elise Broach lives in Easton, Connecticut. David Catrow lives in Springfield, Ohio.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Henry Holt & Company
Publication date
February 20, 2014
Masterpiece Adventures
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV002140 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Insects, Spiders, etc.
JUV045000 - Juvenile Fiction | Readers | Chapter Books
Library of Congress categories
Human-animal relationships
Flicker Tale Children's Book Award
Nominee 2016 - 2016

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