Sunday, March 22, 2009


Horn Book (November/December, 2008)
As in Broach's earlier novel Shakespeare's Secret, high art, deep intrigue, and warm friendship converge. James's eleventh birthday party is such a depressing affair that Marvin, an extroverted kitchen beetle, can't resist secretly making him a present. The elegant miniature cityscape he draws (with two front legs dipped in ink) is mistaken for James's work, leading the boy and the beetle to form an unlikely (and, on the beetle's part, silent) friendship. Soon the two visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a show of Albrecht Durer -- whose work Marvin's drawing resembles to an astonishing degree -- and become embroiled in the world of art forgery and theft. Echoes of Selden's Cricket in Times Square, Norton's The Borrowers, Balliett's Chasing Vermeer, and the inimitable E. B. White's Charlotte's Web sound throughout; the derring-do adventures and ethical conundrums the two protagonists face grow organically from a remarkable friendship and make for an engrossing story.

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