Title: Under the Egg
Author: Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Pub. Date: March 18, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 8-12
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Renaissance secrets, World War II tragedy, and present day drama build to an unforgettable crescendo in Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s middle grade debut starring Theodora Tenpenny, an intelligent, self-reliant girl who stumbles upon a mystery that spans decades, continents, and oceans.
When Theodora, startled by an unexpected rodent, spills rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers the unimaginable. Beneath the innocuous painting of an egg, Theodora finds what appears to be a Renaissance masterpiece. Excitement and worry war within Theodora; her grandfather’s sudden death left Theo and her mother with a mere $463 and a mysterious message to “look under the egg” to the Tenpenny name, which is not enough to keep their ramshackle house standing, nor to keep them in food for any length of time. Theo’s mother spends her days lost in mathematic formulas and theorems and is more Theo’s responsibility than guardian, so Theo is on her own. Perhaps this is the answer to the riddle of her grandfather’s last words… But Theo worries that the painting was not acquired through strictly legal channels. After all, her grandfather had access to priceless art as security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and why would he hide something that was rightfully his?
Thus begins Theo’s search for the painting’s origins and the meaning of her grandfather’s last words. Secrets, some centuries old, some decades, some only a matter of weeks, days, and hours, come to light, forever changing the landscape of Theo’s and countless others’ lives.
A sophisticated mystery featuring a resilient and intrepid protagonist, UNDER THE EGG is middle grade literature at its best.