Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Main character: 13-year old Theo Tenpenny
Location: Manhattan
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: Art History, Mystery, Puzzle, Juvenile Fiction

The publisher's blurb for this book compares it to From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil F. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg and Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.  Since I enjoyed both of those books, I was well primed to like this one--and I was not disappointed.

Theo Tenpenny lives in an old house in Manhattan that has been in her family for generations.  Her family is not financially well-off so the house has seen better days, but Theo does her best to keep it standing.  Her grandfather, Jack, was a painter, but he was killed in a traffic accident before the start of the book.  Theo was a witness to the accident, and as he lays dying he tells her to find the treasure that is under the egg.

I hesitate to give too many plot details because a great deal of the enjoyment in reading this book was to discover things along with Theo and with Bodhi, a new girl in the neighborhood who has had just as unconventional an upbringing as Theo.  Starting with just Jack's cryptic words, the two girls chase clues, solve the mystery, find the treasure, and make friends with many wonderful characters along the way.

It is that cast of characters that also adds to the enjoyment of the book.  Many have their eccentricities--especially the French tea-seller who lives next door--but, with two notable exceptions, they all give generously to the two girls and open Theo's world up greatly.  They reminded me of the townspeople in Gilmore Girls' Stars Hollow.

I would definitely recommend this to tweens who enjoy mysteries, as well as anyone who enjoyed Mixed Up Files and Chasing Vermeer.

I read this as an e-ARC from NetGalley.

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