Masterpiece by Elise Broach
*Rebecca Caudill 2012 Nominee*
James lives in Manhattan and just had a disappointing eleventh birthday party. His parents are divorced; his father gives a pen-and-ink drawing kit for his birthday. A beetle, who lives under the sink, wants to give James a special birthday present to cheer him up. The beetle draws a picture that replicates the view from outside James window. James is highly amazed. The beetle, Marvin, and the boy instantly become friends. Jame's mother discovers the painting before James can hide it. How can James tell the truth about who drew it and if he doesn't, when will the deception ever stop?
Marvin's talents are put to use when it is necessary to use one of his paintings to uncover an art theft. The FBI is called in, but it is James and Marvin who solve the mystery. It is Marvin who figures out that when you see different parts of the world, you see different parts of yourself. It is James who figures out how to communicate with a beetle, even though Marvin can't talk.
The Four Virtues: Justice, Fortitude, Prudence, and Temperance (masterpieces of Albrecht Durer) add an element of philosophy. Art history and the true meaning of friendship are combined perfectly in this fast-paced mystery. Elise Broach really did lose her contact down a drain twenty years ago. That is how the first chapter begins. She wrote the first few chapters that night and finished her masterpiece twenty years later!