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Under the Egg
Cover of Under the Egg
Under the Egg
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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...
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...
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  • 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 townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather's legacy of $463. There's just one problem: Theo's grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

    With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo's search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she'll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

 

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Excerpts-

  • From the book Chapter Two

    Eighteen Spinney Lane is easy to find. Just cast your eyes past the row of gleaming town houses, with their uniform brick facades and polished brass plaques and, in some cases, packs of paparazzi.

    Then find the one house that looks like the residents are ready to just pack it in and get that condo in Florida.

    That's ours.

    It wasn't always like this. Great-great-great-great-grandfather Tenpenny made a fortune in shipping and found himself an elegant street (formerly a hardscrabble thicket, or "spinney") to build himself not one, but two town houses: one for his wife and children, and an adjoining one for his mother, complete with connecting doorways on each floor.

    As it turns out, this building boom represented the peak of the Tenpenny fortune, and a year later the adjoining town house had been rented out and Grandma moved in with the rest of the family. As time went on, Greenwich Village was abandoned as the city's elite moved farther and farther uptown, but we Tenpennys stayed put.

    On that hot July day, I used my new sneakers to kick the business cards and flyers ("Dear Occupant, Do you need cash—and quick? Let Town Home Realty handle your home sale!") off the stoop and jiggled the front door's brass doorknob until it finally surrendered.

    No warm welcome here. Just the hot, stale parlor, silent and thick with the smell of musty books and last winter's pop-in from a stray cat. With Jack by my side, the room held a certain artistic-eccentric charm: an antique desk repaired with an oak branch in place of a leg, an ottoman made out of Yellow Pages bound together with sailor's knots, autumn leaves ironed between sheets of waxed paper and wallpapered around the room. But now, alone, with the autumn leaves drifting to the ground as the glue gave out, the place just looked odd, like a stylish great-aunt who has begun wearing her wig backward.

    A breeze from the dining room windows brought in the clucking of our backyard chickens, probably thirsty and impatient for dinner. Jack had started a little garden plot back there in the Great Depression, and now that garden had taken over the entire lot, including not just rows of veggies, but an apple tree, a raspberry bush, and a well-built coop for a fine flock of chickens.

    At least for now. I'd lost one this week to a Jurassic-sized rat. Camille had been a tough old broad; she could've taken that rat. But since Jack died, I think we'd all had the fight knocked out of us.

    The grandfather clock in the corner struck five low tones. The chickens would have to wait. It was
    teatime.


    The stairs to the second floor creaked under my weight, made heavier by the tarnished silver tray
    with hard-boiled eggs and a chipped teapot, which I carried like a waitress.

    Using my free hand, I gave three knocks. No answer.

    Mom didn't so much as glance up from her desk as I pushed my way in. From the door I could see beads of sweat running down the back of her neck, below a knot of straw-colored hair bound up absently with a pencil. She wore her terry-cloth bathrobe, even in the stifling, dank room, with its scent of fermenting tea bags and dirty laundry.

    "I've got your tea." I set the tray on the floor next to her chair. Mom got pretty agitated if I put anything on her desk, which was blanketed in yellow papers filled with numbers and cryptic characters. She said nothing and continued scratching a pencil on her latest legal pad.

    Jack said my mom was always a bit "off," even as a little girl. It's not that she was crazy or even slow. It's just that she always preferred the world inside her mind to the world outside.

    I...

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books rozeb - I am in the middle of this. It is so good. I hate the cover, though. I hate it when the authors or illustrators put pictures of the characters on the cover in chapter books. It is so brain-missing. I just hate it. You know what I also hate? When you're halfway down with the best book in the worle, and then you leave it at school. Yes, I left this book at school. It is so silly! I want my book....
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 16, 2013
    As he lay dying, Theodora Tenpenny’s grandfather Jack muttered something about a treasure “under the egg.” Theodora, 13, thinks this means that Jack—a thrifty, unknown artist—left a means of providing for Theo and her unreliable mother. She searches the mantelpiece, beneath Jack’s painting of an egg, and the bowl where they display an egg gathered from the chicken coop behind their Greenwich Village townhouse. Nothing. Then an accident uncovers another image under Jack’s painting, sending Theo and her new friend Bodhi, the daughter of two film stars, on a mission to discover the provenance of what appears to be a Renaissance masterpiece. Theo is smart and resourceful, and debut author Fitzgerald creates a plausible backstory for the teen’s uncanny ability to spot “the difference between a Manet and a Monet.” While the resolution falls into place too easily, the search for answers forces Theo out of her shell and into the wonderfully quirky community around her. Fans of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler will find this another delightful lesson in art history. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Harvey Klinger.

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