Trouble at School for Marvin & James written by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

   Trouble at School for Marvin & James (The Masterpiece Adventures, #3) – written by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, Henry Holt and Company /Christy Ottaviano Books, (9781627793186), 2017.

Format: Hardcover Early Chapter Book

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book? This is the third book in a beginning chapter book series about the friendship between Marvin, a beetle, and James, a boy. This time, Marvin goes to school for the first time with his friend James. They enjoy art class and even make a beautiful drawing together, but at lunch, Marvin is blown away by a sneezing student and winds up in the trash. A friendly cockroach helps him find his way to the top of the trash can, and by combining initiative with a little luck, Marvin is reunited with James, who had been searching for him all along. Broach never talks down to her young readers, even going so far as to introduce the philosophical idea of “happy accidents” which recurs throughout the story. In the end, Marvin concludes, “Mistakes in life can be happy accidents too. Because even if a mistake is scary, it can help you see something differently.” As usual, the friendship between Marvin and James is at the heart of the adventure, and Marvin is unshakably confident that his friend James will come through when needed. Loads of line drawings help readers visualize the events in the story and fill in the meaning of words they might not recognize.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a great early chapter book choice for emerging readers, especially for children who enjoy stories about kids with non-human best friends, like Henry and Mudge or children who have a sense of wonder about the possibility of befriending small sentient beings but are not quite ready for The Borrowers.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and classrooms, public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with Early Chapter Books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes. If you serve patrons of elementary school age, it’s a good idea to read at least one book in the series to become familiar with it.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  5/26/17

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