I first heard about Masterpiece by Elise Broach from my friend Eileen who told me that she was reading it to her girls at night and had to keep reading after they fell asleep. I understand why--this book is aptly named. The main character is a very artistic rodent (think Ratatouille) who accidentally discovers his ability while tryng to make a birthday present for the boy in the apartment where he lives. This is a delightful story of a friendship that is set behind the scenes of an art museum. Her other book, Shakespeare's Secret is also a fun read. The best book I've read recently is Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool. I think it ended up being the Newberry winner, and that honor is well deserved. The story is about Abilene who has been living on the road with her father since her mother's death. Her father sends her on a train to the town where he grew up (Manifiest,Kansas) for the summer. The summer leads her to many discoveries about the history of this interesting small town and the lives of the people who still live there. The story is loosely based upon some of the author's relatives. She is a remarkable storyteller who weaves two parallel storylines of past and present. A fortune teller, a cigar box filled with mementoes, and newspaper stories help Abilene learn about her newest home. The story also gives a moving glimpse into the lives of coal miners during the depression.
Don't take my word for it. Patricia Reilly Giff calls it "the best book I've read in years".