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Under the Egg

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  6,633 ratings  ·  1,126 reviews
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 townho
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by Dial Books (first published March 1st 2014)
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Teri North YES! This is a great family friendly book! Delightful!

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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,633 ratings  ·  1,126 reviews

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Let me ask you a question. You seem like an intelligent individual. Have you ever read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? And, if your answer is yes, did you love it? At the very least, do you remember it? I think it fair to say that for significant portions of the population the answer to both these questions would be yes. But before we go any further, consider for a moment precisely WHY you love the book. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it’s most probable ...more
Isabel Allende
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
For 8 to 12 year olds but adults will enjoy it too.
Theodora lives in a 200-year-old townhouse with her fragile mother and her grandfather’s legacy: $463 and a rather mundane painting of an egg. When Theo discovers that there is a masterpiece hidden behind the picture of the egg, she realizes grandfather, who was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wasn’t who she thought he was. This adventure into the secret world of art will fascinate kids and make them want to take you to the m
Lisa Vegan
As I was reading this, most of the way through, no matter how much I was enjoying it, and I was, particularly my 10 year old self, I was thinking how I couldn’t give the book 5 stars. Unlike some middle grade books, it felt very middle grade, so I had to suspend disbelief quite a few times, and there were just too many unbelievable coincidences, but the story and characters are great, the writing is very good, the reader is likely to learn a lot about the Holocaust and art history and art, and i ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Voila, I am ten years old again.

As a newly minted ten year old, this book is great. It's got everything I love -- A mystery involving art, museums, WWII history. There's a real feel of NYC with people in the neighborhood who might seem mean or strange at first glance, but are really interesting, concerned and friendly.

Add to that a heroine with a house (in NYC) with chickens. Chickens are cool.

So my grown-up self may not think this book is perfect, but my ten year-old self does and I think there
A nice read aloud. I read this with my daughter in 2015 and again with my son in 2018 as part of the bookclub he belongs to. I liked the strong female friendship which is highlighted here, and the way very adult problems are dealt with in a way that felt true to how a middle school aged girl would deal with them. The mystery is interesting, if somewhat coincidental in the resolution, and I actually learned a bit about art too!
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, first-reads
Amid a sea of dystopian and romance novels for the middle grade reader, I was excited and refreshed to read Under the Egg. Age appropriate and enticing, it follows the summer journey of quirky, self-sufficient and academic Theodora Tenpenny as she attempts to solve her grandfather's art mystery, while at the same time learning how to make connections and friendships in order to escape her lonely childhood. Laura Marx Fitzgerald does an excellent job weaving World War II history and art history i ...more
Dov Zeller
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it
There are several fantastic GR reviews out there for this book already, so I'm not sure this will be a meaningful contribution. But, here I am, writing as a way to record my experience of it and also process through it a bit.

This book seems to be a favorite of librarians (there are several library scenes and a lot of librarian love) and lovers of The Mixed Up Files... Me? I am embarrassed to say I've not read The Mixed Up Files, and though I have worked in libraries I am not and haven't been a
Dana Cristiana
One of the best middle-grade books ever! 5 Full Stars!

Why is this book so underrated?!

This book is so clever, so emotional and mysterious and mind-f*ck in the end!
Please, do yourself a favour and read Under the Egg! <3
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned-read

Under the Egg follows 13 year old Theo who upon the untimely death of her grandfather, finds a priceless piece of art. This discovery sends Theo on a world wind journey as she searches for the history and the story behind it. However, as Theo unlocks the past of the painting she also finds out about her grandfathers secrets.

This book was a lot of fun, as an art geek myself I couldn't help but LOVE all the art references. This is book is a really fast read being only 240 pages, and the story
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Definitely not as light or as "Juv" as I expected, given the vibe the cover gives me, and the shelving. If your child (boy *or* girl!) is interested in it, read it yourself, too, especially if they're 9 or younger, or sensitive.

Otherwise, I agree with just about everything my friends Lisa Vegan and Michael Fitzgerald say in their reviews. Lots of potential, worth reading if you're interested, but not quite classic.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Think Mixed-Up Files meets Monument Men--a wonderful art mystery. A few plot coincidences that made me question the reasonableness of the ending, but the writing and the unique nature of the story make this a standout. Theo is a great heroine for kids--smart and resourceful.
Lily - Books by Starlight
A good book! I thought it was brilliant when I was younger lol.
Michael Fitzgerald
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This could have been a really good book. The underlying background is excellent and the author has put together an engaging story that captivates the reader. The problems are in the details, little things that better editing could have fixed without really altering the story.

The two 13-year-old stars manage to overcome their being merely trite bundles of contrasting character traits (one rich, one poor; one traditional, one techie; one public schooled, one unschooled, etc.) and work well togeth
Marjorie Ingall
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am LOVING this. Have to stop for three weeks because Maxie is going to camp and its our bedtime read-aloud. It's so SMART. And quirky. And tense and upsetting and funny. And tightly edited and not too long. I love an art-world mystery! I hate to say the only reason I'll miss my kid at camp is because I have to wait to find out how this book ends, but....

UPDATE: Maxie is home! We finished it last night. Trying not to let the convenient, deux-ex-machina-y, coincidence-riddled ending sour my feel
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s middle grade debut novel, Under the Egg, deals, in its short length, with many pertinent and contemporary issues that affect children’s today. The novel focalizes on Theodora Tenpenny who is entirely self-sufficient and takes care of the house and her mother while battling the ever encroaching threat of poverty and foster care.

The novels is an ode to art as Fitzgerald skillfully weaves art history and thought into the narrative as Theodora and her newly made friend, Bodhi
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Evocative of excellent spy/NYC/resilient heroines like Harriet the Spy and the Westing Game but feels totally contemporary. Has good historical and art history pieces as well. Recommend widely to mystery, good writing, smart girls fans and for family read alouds. Extra added bonus the entire book the two smart girls never, ever talk about boys but they talk about tons of other stuff.
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was a quick read that I finished in one day. I wasn't sure how I'd like it, since middle grade sometimes reads a bit too young for me, but I really enjoyed this. The mystery was engaging and kept me turning the pages. I also really enjoyed the friendship formed between Theodora and Bodhi. I also was quite surprised by many of the results to parts of the mystery. ...more
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adolescenti, figli
Similar to "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler," which I loved. This book provides more art history detail, which made it all the more interesting and enjoyable. ...more
Read on a road trip! This is an excellent historical mystery for kids. Some holocaust story included. Believable and likeable characters.

For the gentle reader: some talk about breasts (“boobs) as part of an art 🖼 history lesson.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, ya-kid-lit
Fans of mystery, history, and art will love this book. Theodora "Theo" Tenpenny lives with her mother (Angelika) and grandfather(Jack) in their family home, a home that has seen better days. Her grandfather paints and also works as a security guard at the Metropolitan Art Museum. Her mother has been working on her dissertation for her degree in mathematics for the last 15 years and rarely leaves the house. So Theo and Jack take care of the errands,chores and repairs. When Jack dies, Theo is left ...more
Jim Erekson
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
I really enjoyed this thriller story with its background in art history and the current art world. Fitzgerald tipped a hat early on to Salinger by putting her loner protagonist in an old, decaying NYC house (direct reference to Franny and Zooey). I enjoyed how Fitzgerald unfolded the specifics of this special art puzzle. The resolution happened very quickly, and I almost missed it because I was reading that chapter while trying to get kids to brush their teeth before bed, but it was something sh ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-with-l, 2020
We really enjoyed this story. There were a lot of interesting historical elements.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Theo Tenpenny is 13 years old and on her own. Her beloved grandfather has died and left her in the ruined old New York house that has been in the family for generations. Theo isn't totally alone, she has a mother who is uselessly ensnared in the "research" for a thesis she will never finish, and needs more care than she gives. So Theo works diligently to repurpose and recycle the bits and pieces she finds and marshall their dwindling resources. But then an accident happens, and Theo discovers th ...more
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Thirteen year old, Theodora (Theo) Tenpenny, lives in a dilapidated house in New York City with her artist grandfather and mentally unstable mother. One day, she comes home to find out that her grandfather is dead, leaving Theo the responsibility of maintaining the little of what they have left as well as her mother.

However, his last words to Theo were telling her about a treasure under the egg. This sets Theo on a quest that will change her life forever.

This book was interesting bec
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After witnessing the tragic death of her Grandfather, whose final words were the clue to a mystery, young Theodora Tenpenny finds a old painting that might be the answer to their financial problems and could help her and her mother save their 200-year-old home. But with only a little over $300 to their name (and a mother with expensive tastes) her time is running out.

This is a great mystery! It reminds me of The Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. There’s lots of museum visits, and ar
Loved, loved, loved this book. After her grandfather's death Theodora struggles to maintain the family's deteriorating townhouse and care for her needy mother. When an accident causes her to reveal a renaissance masterpiece under one of her grandfather's paintings she is both amazed and worried. She lets go of her isolationism as she realizes she needs help to learn more about the painting and its rightful owner. I think kids will relate to Theodora who is quirky, likable, and smart and will enj ...more
Astrid Lim
I love, love, love this book. It has a great combination of all my favorite things! Art, history, cool protagonist, quirky friendship, mystery, and of course, summer in New York!!! What not to love? The story line itself - between historical art and painting and also a glimpse of World War II- has been woven pretty well. Juicy, not too much, light but also thought provoking. Fitzgerald is officially in my list of favorite writer- and can't wait to read more of her books! ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For me this book was THE GOLDFINCH meets MONUMENTS MEN meets Sammy Keys. It contains lots of information on Renaissance artists, art appreciation, and touches of the Holocaust. I am anxious to see how it is received by my students. Personally I loved the quirky characters, the historical aspects, and basic solving of the mystery.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Art, pie, libraries, and family ties... YUSSSS, this mystery story did not disappoint!
Abigail Smith
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A repeat read-aloud, and such a good book!
The storyline is wonderfully woven and historically fascinating!
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“This was part of the Nazis’ plan, do you see? To make even us believe that we had no place on this earth. But then the ugliness, the brutality would be pierced by this ray of beauty, and you’d think . . .” 3 likes
“The precepts of the law are these: to live correctly, to do an injury to none, and to render to every one his own”—a holdover from the building’s original function as a jail and courthouse.” 0 likes
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