Saturday, August 15, 2015

Under the Egg

Author:  Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Rating:  ** (2 stars out of 3 possible, "B")

Audience:  Middle School

My second WWII book in a row, Under the Egg plays out like a Monuments' Men for youth, although it is highly fictionalized.

13-year old Theodora (Theo) Tenpenny doesn't inherit much when her Grandpa Jack dies:  a few hundred dollars, a failing townhouse in Greenwich Village, and full-time care of her distracted, unstable mother.  There's also the unusual egg picture above the fireplace mantle and a few family chickens out back.

Grandpa Jack's final message to "look under the egg" finally begins to make sense when rubbing alcohol is spilled on a portion of the egg painting and a new image begins to appear.  Considering Jack's service in WWII, as well as his job as a security guard at the Metropolitan Art Museum, Theo is now faced with perplexing mysteries:  What is the painting?  And who was Uncle Jack?

With help from her friends (quirky, bold, new-agey Bodhi, Librarian Eddie and Episcopalian Reverend Cecily), Theo just might be able to solve these mysteries while preserving her family's way of life.

The book gives a nod to both Buddhist (Bodhi=Buddha's enlightenment) and Christian spirituality, but is primarily neutral in terms of moral instruction.  Fans of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Chasing Vermeer will definitely enjoy this eclectic take on art mysteries.

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