Under the Egg

( 2 )

Overview

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler meets Chasing Vermeer in this clever middle grade debut

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s ...

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Under the Egg

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Overview

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler meets Chasing Vermeer in this clever middle grade debut

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo's search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she'll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/16/2013
As he lay dying, Theodora Tenpenny’s grandfather Jack muttered something about a treasure “under the egg.” Theodora, 13, thinks this means that Jack—a thrifty, unknown artist—left a means of providing for Theo and her unreliable mother. She searches the mantelpiece, beneath Jack’s painting of an egg, and the bowl where they display an egg gathered from the chicken coop behind their Greenwich Village townhouse. Nothing. Then an accident uncovers another image under Jack’s painting, sending Theo and her new friend Bodhi, the daughter of two film stars, on a mission to discover the provenance of what appears to be a Renaissance masterpiece. Theo is smart and resourceful, and debut author Fitzgerald creates a plausible backstory for the teen’s uncanny ability to spot “the difference between a Manet and a Monet.” While the resolution falls into place too easily, the search for answers forces Theo out of her shell and into the wonderfully quirky community around her. Fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will find this another delightful lesson in art history. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
02/01/2014
Gr 4–7—Before dying, Jack, Theodora's grandfather, whispers, "There's a letter… And a treasure" hidden "under the egg." After his passing, Theo could certainly use a treasure; her absentminded mother hides herself away on the top floor of their dilapidated Greenwich Village townhouse while the 13-year-old struggles to make ends meet with the $463 that Jack left. Hanging above the mantelpiece is one of her late grandfather's paintings which depicts a large egg. Could a treasure be hiding underneath? An accident with a bottle of rubbing alcohol reveals an unusual image that sets the teen off on an art history adventure taking her from New York Public Library's Jefferson Market branch to a fancy Upper East Side auction house and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along the way, she befriends Bodhi, the jet-setting, paparazzi-hounded daughter of two celebrities; Reverend Cecily from Grace Church; and a punk-rock librarian named Eddie. Fitzgerald gets the Manhattan setting pitch-perfect; from the rich aroma of a roasted nut stand to the hushed hallways of the Met. While the mystery unwinds at an even pace through most of the book, the last few chapters conclude too quickly and readers may be disappointed in the all-too-convenient ending. Still, fans of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2004) and Elise Broach's Masterpiece (Holt, 2008) will enjoy this art caper.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-07
This debut novel weaves art appreciation, restoration and dating techniques, and bits of history from the Renaissance and World War II into a fast-paced mystery. As the novel opens, 13-year-old Theodora Tenpenny explains her thrifty hobby of collecting trash from the city streets and turning it into useful objects. Then she recounts what happened merely three months ago: She found her adored grandfather, Jack, lying bloodied on a city street and heard his dying exhortation to "Look under the egg." Theodora, who has spent her life living with her emotionally incapacitated mother and her crusty, artistic, capable grandfather, knows she must follow this clue in order to become the family's next breadwinner. (Readers must suspend disbelief regarding social services in Manhattan.) Fortuitously, Theodora befriends Bodhi, also 13 but a member of a family of Hollywood celebrities. Theodora's knowledge of art history and Bodhi's skills in acting and in technology enable the girls to puzzle out the importance of Jack's final words. All the characters are relatively flat, including first-person protagonist Theodora, but an original plot with humorous swipes at rich-and-famous lifestyles and authentic references to New York City will keep readers interested. Occasionally, there are awkward or dense passages, but they are balanced by quirky encounters, as with Eddie, a tattooed librarian. If Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code wrote middle-grade novels, this would be the one. (Mystery. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803740013
  • Publisher: Dial
  • Publication date: 3/18/2014
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 61,481
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

In writing Under the Egg, Laura Marx Fitzgerald drew on her study of art history at Harvard and Cambridge Universities. She lives in Brooklyn, and this is her middle grade debut.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Cool

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    Posted March 26, 2014

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