A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while Elise Broach's Marvin & James series is based on the characters in her popular mystery Masterpiece, this series about a beetle and his human friend is for slightly younger readers. There's no ambiguity about plot, and readers don't have to decipher emotional cues, which is just right for this age group. The vocabulary might be a stretch occasionally, but not in an overwhelming way. The illustrations on every page reinforce the series' clear message of kindness with gentle humor, and make these longer stories accessible to those just starting chapter books.
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What's the story?
In the MARVIN & JAMES series, Marvin the beetle lives with his family under the sink in his friend James' house, unbeknownst to James's parents. James keeps secret his friendship with the beetle who rubs his legs in ink to make drawings, finds lost treasures, and occasionally needs human help to survive. Marvin's family warns him to be careful about getting caught by other humans, but the two friends manage to have sweet interactions, fun adventures, and genuinely care for each other -- even if Marvin can't speak to James.
Is it any good?
These easy chapter books are gently sweet and funny, and might help young readers build confidence in their social interactions. The Marvin & James series focuses on the sometimes complex emotions of friendship (no matter if you're human or insect), but the illustrations, plot ,and vocabulary make this great for early readers. The series spells out simple lessons that can take the anxiety out of friendships: that friends are friends even if they are separated for a while, and that making a friend happy can make you happy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how both Marvin and James help each other out: Even though Marvin is tiny, he helps James in surprising ways. How do smaller or younger people help those older or bigger than them?
Is a friendship between a person and an animal or insect realistic?
What other books have you read about friendships between humans and animals?
- Author: Elise Broach
- Illustrator: Kelly Murphy
- Genre: For Beginning Readers
- Topics: Adventures, Bugs, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Square Fish
- Publication date: October 20, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 9
- Number of pages: 128
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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