Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Under the Egg
Under the Eg
By Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Reviewed from NetGalley
Audience: Gr 4-6
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Theodora Tenpenny comes from a great family, but they have fallen on hard times. They still own their brownstone in a trendy part of Brooklyn, but the house is crumbling, and without her grandfather to keep it together, Theo is losing her home. Just before her grandfather's death, he told her to look under the egg for a treasure and Theo hopes that this will help her keep her home. She searches all over the mantle place where they put the best egg of the day from her chicken coup, but can't find anything, until some rubbing alcohol spills on her grandfather's painting and reveals what Theo believes to be a Raphael painting. She unexpectedly makes a friend with Bodhi, the child of movie stars, and the pair set off to authenticate this painting, and clear her grandfather's name if it was stolen. But their journey leads them to much more than money or fame, it leads them to a legacy that her grandfather never shared and oddly reunites a family. An original and powerful mystery for young readers that will have them engaged and cheering for Theo until the last sentence.
I have loved similar art mysteries like Chasing Vermeer, Masterpiece, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, so I knew I would like this book. I didn't know I would love it. Theo is such a strongly independent character, raising herself while her mother is working on her math theorems. Theo was mostly raised by her curmudgeonly grandfather, but even he wasn't as difficult as he seemed. As the story unfolds, you see Theo trusting others more and getting, at least some, of the help that she needs.
Her grandfather's backstory is pretty incredible, and that they are able to uncover so much of it might seem unrealistic, but we are talking about finding a Raphael in plain sight. Theo gets to know and understand her grandfather in a way that she never could when he was alive.
I've read enough circular chapter books that I did guess the ending, which was a little disappointing. I can't say why I was so disappointed, because that could easily give it away, but the very last chapter completely redeemed itself and this book just left me glowing.
After reading this and Ophelia, my faith in humanity is completely restored. Both were beautifully written works with a darkness that was swept away in the end. They are both hopeful and lovely and all the pretty adjectives associated with happiness.
Now, if only spring would take the hint and get her little heiny over here, all would be perfect in my world!