The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.


Masterpiece by Elise Broach

If you read Shakespeare's Secret (Henry Holt, 2005) then you know Elise Broach can tell a great story. Masterpiece (Henry Holt, 2008) is not the great story that Shakespeare's Secret is, in my opinion, however it is quite an enjoyable book to which younger readers will be drawn (eek -- forgive the pun).

This story is about a boy and a bug. A bug who has an amazing talent for art. If you can get past that suspension of disbelief, the rest unfolds wonderfully. Through circumstance, Marvin -- a beetle who lives in the walls of James' New York apartment -- discovers an open ink pot sitting out. He dips in one leg, and ends up drawing a detailed reproduction of the view out of James' window. Although Marvin and James cannot speak, they strike up a friendship. So when James' mother (and subsequently, father and friend of the family museum curator) believe the amazing ink drawing is done by James, the boy and his beetle friend go along with it. After all, who would believe the truth?

Unfortunately, the lie is put to the test when James is asked to create a reproduction of a famous Druer painting to help the sweet and lovely curator at the Metropolitan Museum not only thwart an art heist, but perhaps recover the rest of the missing Druer collection as well.

Caught up in the lie and the ensuing sting operation, Marvin finds adventure outside the walls of his apartment like he never dreamed, and James discovers a few things about himself (and his parents) that help him grow up. 

This read like a younger Chasing Vermeer for me, which is a high compliment. Not only will kids fall in love with sweet Marvin, but they just might learn a thing or two about the art world as well. 4 bookmarks out of 5 !

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