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Book Impression: Under the Egg

Book Impression is an opportunity to share my reading experience. 

For a more detailed explanation, please visit this post.

Under the Egg
by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
published by Dial Books
copyright 2014

I adored this novel.

For fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (my brief review here), this is a similar modern-day story that incorporates a likable heroine, an interesting mystery, and a lesson in art appreciation.

While not an orphan in the traditional sense of the word, Theo is basically left alone to fend for herself and her eccentric mother. The situation is dire, and Theo is afraid they will have to leave the family’s Manhattan townhouse.

One day she accidentally spills alcohol on her grandfather’s favorite painting and discovers a hidden painting underneath. Could this provide the financial aid she desperately needs?

Since Grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the mystery takes Theo and her friends all over the city in search of clues to the painting’s true identity.

First, I am in awe that this is Ms. Fitzgerald’s debut novel. It is just as captivating, just as magical as E. L. Konigsburg’s classic. While the mystery aspect of the story was fine,  I was enamored with the characters, setting, and historical references. The writing style is engaging, and the storyline draws the reader and holds her tight.

Secondly, I love the references to the World War II time period, and finished the book wanting to learn more about the Monument’s Men. I have not yet watched 2014 movie, but plan to do so soon, as well as do a bit of research on my own.

Lastly, I relished the subtle art appreciation lessons woven into the story. For example on page 31 the author teaches us:

“What is the artist trying to tell you? There is a message here. Maybe the message is a feeling. Maybe it’s a moment in time, or a lens on the world. Or simply the state of being in a single color. But if you just look at the surface, you’ll see — what — a portrait, a saint, a myth, a man. But do you see the story? The meaning?”

I wish I had learned about art in this intimate way in elementary school. I fear I have missed out on much in life. But I subscribe to the theory that we are never too old to learn. Now I can hardly wait to tour the local museum with a new perspective on how to view — and truly see — art.

This post is a part of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. If you are interested in reading other MG books, please visit Shannon Messenger’s blog for a complete list of this week’s reviews.  I am always on the lookout for other MG historical fiction novels. If you have a favorite you think I would enjoy, please feel free to leave the title in the comment section.


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