Lynn: Masterpieces, museums and Manhattan all feature in Fitzgerald’s intriguing mystery debut Under the Egg (Penguin/Dial 2014). Theodora has never had things easy but after her artist/museum guard grandfather’s death in a pedestrian accident, the situation gets overwhelming for the thirteen-year-old girl. Theo’s mom lives more inside her head than in the real world and now with Jack’s death, Theo has only $384 dollars to keep them going. Their 200-year-old townhouse is in serious need of repairs, food is getting scarce and Theo has been living on beets from their garden. To make things even more worrying, Jack’s dying words to Theo were, “Look under the egg.” At first Theo isn’t at all sure what he meant and then she spills rubbing alcohol on one of her grandfather’s paintings and discovers what looks like an old masterpiece hidden underneath.
Who painted this stunning painting and where did her grandfather get it? Theo has grown up in museums, getting a first-rate art education from her grandfather and she knows Renaissance quality when she sees it. Terrified that her beloved grandfather might have stolen the painting, Theo sets out to discover who painted it and where it came from. Along the way she meets her first real friend, daughter of two celebrity musicians who moves into the neighborhood. Bodhi jumps into the hunt with vibrant enthusiasm and a knack for research. As the girls follow the clues, their investigation opens doors to some fascinating history and family secrets and Theo learns that she doesn’t have to take on the world alone.
Kids intrigued by the recent movie, The Monuments Men, will twig to the answer quickly but will also find this related story doubly interesting. Mature responsible Theo is an appealing narrator and I was pulling for her right from the start. Some quirky adults show up to help out with the satisfying resolution – and especially fun is the tattooed young librarian. Young fans of Blue Ballet’s mysteries will devour this fun mystery with glee.