• Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Masterpiece - Elise Broach; illustrations by Kelly MurphySee larger image
See Hi-Res Jpeg image


email/print EmailPrint

Masterpiece



Awards: American Library Association Notable Children's Books; Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year; ABC E.B. White Read Aloud Award; CCBC Choice (Univ. of WI); Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year; Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens; CPL: Chicago Public Library Best of the Best; Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List; Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Choice Award Master List; Indiana Read Alouds Too Good to Miss Master List; Iowa Children's Choice Award Master List; Kansas State Reading Circle; Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Maser List; Nebraska Golden Sower Award Master List; Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List

Listen: Audio Excerpt
Loading the player ...
Share this book with friends through your favorite social networking site. Share:           Bookmark and Share
Add this title to your virtual bookshelves at any of these book community sites. Shelve:             
sign up to get updates about this author
add this book's widget
to your site or blog

About The Authors

By Kelly Murphy and Elise Broach

Elise Broach is the New York Times bestselling author of books for children and young adults, including Desert Crossing and Shakespeare’s Secret, as well as several picture books. Her books have been selected as ALA notable books, Junior Library Guild selections, an E.B.... More

Awards

American Library Association Notable Children's Books
Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year
ABC E.B. White Read Aloud Award
CCBC Choice (Univ. of WI)
Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year
Capitol Choices Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens
CPL: Chicago Public Library Best of the Best
Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award Master List
Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Choice Award Master List
Indiana Read Alouds Too Good to Miss Master List
Iowa Children's Choice Award Master List
Kansas State Reading Circle
Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Maser List
Nebraska Golden Sower Award Master List
Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List

Stay In Touch

Sign up to recieve information about new releases, author appearances, special offers, all related to you favorite authors and books.

Other Books You Might Like

cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Haunted Houses

Square Fish
Scare-master Robert San Souci serves up ten chilling tales about untraditional haunted houses: a mansion full of pirate treasure, a ghost trapped in a...
  
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Missing on Superstition Mountain

Square Fish
It’s summer and the three Barker brothers—Simon, Henry, and Jack—just moved from Illinois to Arizona. Their parents have warned them repeatedly not to explore...
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Shakespeare's Secret

Square Fish
A missing diamond, a mysterious neighbor, a link to Shakespeare—can Hero uncover the connections?
cover Buy

More formats
eBook
Desert Crossing

Henry Holt and Co.
There are some kinds of trouble you never see coming, like those thunderstorms that start from nothing at all. One minute the sky is bright blue and distant....
cover Buy
Maybelle in the Soup

Henry Holt and Co.
Maybelle is a lovely, plump cockroach. She lives in her own cozy little home under the refrigerator of Mr. and Mrs. Peabody. Maybelle knows it’s best to stay...
cover Buy
Another Book About Design
Complicated Doesn't Make It Bad

Henry Holt and Co.
In A Book About Design, Mark Gonyea taught us why a complicated design does not necessarily mean a good design. Now he’s back in super-heroic form to...
cover Buy
A Book About Design
Complicated Doesn't Make It Good

Henry Holt and Co.
Design is all about the perception of size, shape, and color. A fabulous and fun introduction to the concepts of design A Book About Design: Complicated...
cover Buy
Maybelle Goes to Tea

Henry Holt and Co.
Maybelle doesn’t go looking for adventures, but they seem to find her anyway. She just can’t be content eating crumbs in the dark like a cockroach should. No,...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Talk Like TED
The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds

St. Martin's Press
Ideas are the true currency of the twenty-first century. So, in order to succeed you need to be able to sell yourself and your ideas persuasively. The ability...
  
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
The Way of Kings

Tor Fantasy
A new epic fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® Series
cover Buy
I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love

Feiwel & Friends
There are things about you quite unlike any other. Things always known by your father or mother. So if you decide to be different one day, no worries… I’d...

EXCERPT

The journey through the dark apartment to James’s room was an arduous one.  Rolling the nickel across the kitchen tile went relatively smoothly, but hoisting it over the door sills left Marvin exhausted and panting.  He had to watch for trouble every step of the way, not just night-roving Pompadays, but the booby-traps of forgotten gum or scotch tape on the floor, or worse yet, a foraging mouse. 

When he finally reached James’s bedroom, he had to sit for a minute to catch his breath.  A streetlamp outside the window cast dim light across the walls, and in the bluish blackness, Marvin saw the mountainous silhouette of James, asleep under the blankets.  He heard the boy’s deep breaths.

Marvin thought about the birthday party.  Had it been a good day for James?  The boys at the party weren’t his friends.  The presents had been an uninspired mix of electronic games and designer clothing.  Mrs. Pompaday was as fussy and self-centered as always, and even James’s father, whom Marvin liked a lot, hadn’t come up with a present that seemed to please his son.  Marvin glanced down at the worn face of the buffalo nickel.  Would the coin make up for everything else?  Probably not. 

Suddenly, Marvin felt so sad he could hardly stand it.  A person’s birthday should be a special day, a wonderful day, a day of pure celebration for the luck of being born!  And James’s birthday had been miserable.

Marvin rolled the nickel to a prominent place in the middle of the floor, away from the edge of the rug where it might be overlooked.  James would see it here.  He looked around the dark room one last time.

Then he saw the bottle of ink.  It was high up on James’s desk, and it appeared to be open. 

Curious, Marvin crawled across the floor to the desk and quickly climbed to the top.  James had spread newspaper over the desk, and two or three sheets of the art paper his father had given him.  On one page he’d made some experimental scribbles and had written his name.  The pen, neatly capped, rested at the edge of the paper, but the bottle of ink stood open, glinting in the lamplight.

Without really thinking about what he was doing, Marvin crawled to the bottle cap and dipped his two front legs in the ink that had pooled inside.  On his clean hind legs, he backed over to the unused sheet of paper.  He looked out the window at the nightscape of the street:  the brownstone opposite with its rows of darkened windows, the snow-dusted rooftop, the streetlamp, the naked, spidery branches of a single tree.  Gently, delicately, and with immense concentration, Marvin lowered his front legs and began to draw.

The ink flowed smoothly off his legs across the page.  Though he’d never done anything like this before, it seemed completely natural, even unstoppable.  He kept glancing up, tracing the details of the scene with his eyes, then transferring them onto the paper.  It was as if his legs had been waiting all their lives for this ink, this page, this lamp-lit window view.  There was no way to describe the feeling.  It thrilled Marvin to his very core.

He drew and drew, losing all sense of time.  He moved back and forth between the bottle cap and the paper, dipping his front legs gently in the puddle of black ink, always careful not to smear his previous work.  He watched the picture take shape before his eyes.  It was a complicated thatching of lines and whirls that looked like an abstract design up close, as Marvin leaned over it.  But as he backed away, it transformed into a meticulous portrait of the city-scape:  a tiny, detailed replica of the winter scene outside the window.

And then the light changed.  The sky turned from black to dark blue to gray, the streetlamp shut off, and James’s room was filled with the noise of the city waking.  A garbage truck groaned and banged as it passed on the street below.  James stirred beneath his bedcovers.  Marvin, desperate to finish his picture before the boy awakened, hurried between the page and the bottle cap, which was almost out of ink.  At last he stopped, surveying his miniature scene. 

It was finished.

It was perfect.

It was breathtaking.

Marvin’s heart swelled.  He felt that he had never done anything so fine or important in his entire life.  He wiped his ink-soaked forelegs on the newspapers and scurried behind the desk lamp, bursting with pride, in a fever of anticipation, just as James threw off his blankets.

James stumbled out of bed and stood in the center of the bedroom, rubbing his face.  He looked around groggily, then straightened, his eyes lighting on the floor.

“Hey,” he said softly.  He padded over to the nickel and crouched, picking it up.

Good for James, thought Marvin.  Of course there was no reason to worry that he’d overlook it.

James turned the coin over in his palm and smiled.  “Huh,” he said, walking toward his desk.  “I wonder where this came from.”

Marvin stiffened and retreated further behind the desk lamp.

James gasped.

Marvin watched his pale face, his eyes huge, as he stared at the drawing.  He quickly looked behind him, as if the room might hold some clue that would explain what he saw on the desk.

Then slowly, brows furrowed, James pulled out the chair and sat down.  He

leaned over the picture.  “Wow,” he said.  “Wow!”

Marvin straightened with pride.

James kept examining the drawing, then the scene through the window,

whispering to himself. “It’s exactly what’s outside!  It’s like a teeny, tiny picture of the street!  This is amazing.”

Marvin crept around the base of the lamp so he could hear the boy better.

“But how…?”  James picked up the pen and uncapped it, squinting.  He lifted the bottle of ink and frowned, screwing the bottle cap back on.   “Who did this?” he asked, staring again at the picture.

And then, without planning to—without meaning to, without ever thinking for a moment of the consequences—Marvin found himself crawling out into the open, across the vast desk top, directly in front of James.  He stopped at the edge of the picture and waited, unable to breathe.

James stared at him.

After a long, interminable silence, during which Marvin almost dashed to the grooved safety of the wainscoting behind the desk, James spoke.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” he said.

Marvin waited.

“But how…?”

Marvin hesitated.  He crawled over to the bottle of ink. 

James reached across the desk and Marvin cringed as enormous pinkish fingers swept tremblingly close to his shell.  But the boy avoided him, carefully lifting the bottle and shaking it.  He unscrewed the cap and set it down next to Marvin. 

“How?” he asked again.

Marvin dipped his two front legs in the ink cap and walked across the page to his picture.  Unwilling to change the details of the image, he merely traced the line that framed it, then stepped back.

“With your legs?  Like that?  Dipping them in the ink?” A wide grin full of wonderment and delight spread across James’s face.  “You really did that!  A bug!  That’s the most incredible thing I ever, ever, ever saw in my whole entire life!”

Marvin beamed up at him.

“And with my birthday present too!  You couldn’t have done it without my birthday present.”  His voice rose excitedly, as he leaned closer to Marvin, his warm breath almost blasting Marvin over. 

“It’s like we’re a team.  And you know what?  I didn’t even want this birthday present before.  I thought, what am I going to do with this, I’m not like my dad, I don’t even know how to draw.  But now, it’s like the best thing I ever got.  This birthday is the best one ever!”

Marvin smiled happily.  He realized that James could not for one minute see his expression, but he suspected somehow that the boy knew anyway.

Just then, they heard a noise in the hallway and Mrs. Pompaday’s voice: “James, what are you doing in there?  Who are you talking to?”

Marvin dove for cover, squeezing under James’s china piggybank at the exact moment that Mrs. Pompaday swept into the room.

You May Also Be Interested In

cover Buy
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? My First Reader

Henry Holt and Co.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? beginning readers: These beloved children's stories are now...
cover Buy

More formats
Audio eBook
Emerald Green

Henry Holt and Co.
Gwen has a destiny to fulfill, but no one will tell her what it is.      She’s only recently learned that she is the Ruby, the final member of the...
  
cover Buy
Same, Same But Different

Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books
Elliot lives in America, and Kailash lives in India. They are pen pals. By exchanging letters and pictures, they learn that they both love to climb trees, have...
  Bonus