The book starts out by introducing a family of beetles who live in the house of a human family named the Pomadays. The plot begins when James Pompaday receives a pen and ink set from his artist father for his eleventh birthday. Marvin, a young beetle, wants to give him a present so he uses the pen and ink to draw him a picture. The picture is so fantastic that it makes everyone think James is a gifted artist and leads to him being commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum to draw a forgery of a masterpiece in order to prevent an art heist. This leads Marvin on an adventure to catch an art thief.
This was a great book and one of my favorite reviews so far. The book is a great mix of art history, understanding family relationships, friendship, plus a little mystery and adventure. The best part for me was the discussion about lying. I think many kids this age experiment with dishonesty and this book doesn’t judge lying but explains that once you start being deceitful it becomes an endless snowball of insincerity. More and more lies will always be needed to cover up the original lie. It comments on how, even if the liar doesn’t get caught, he is punished for his untruths by being forced to live with his guilt and deceit.
This is great book for grades 4-8. It’s an easy read and moves along very quickly. I like that kids are exposed to some names of famous artist and their works. The subject of family and friends is always great subject matter because this is the center of this age groups life and many are trying to figure it all out. Finally, I always love a discreet lesson in a book, one that’s tucked so neatly away that a child probably won’t even notice they’re being taught a moral.
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