Under the Egg

Lau­ra Marx Fitzgerald
  • Review
By – July 1, 2014

Theodo­ra Ten­pen­ny has a lot of respon­si­bil­i­ty on her thir­teen-year-old shoul­ders. Her bril­liant but unsta­ble moth­er lives almost entire­ly in her own head, work­ing for more than a decade on a doc­tor­al dis­ser­ta­tion she will nev­er fin­ish. When Theodora’s grand­fa­ther — the family’s sole means of sup­port— dies unex­pect­ed­ly, he leaves her $463 and a cryp­tic mes­sage to look under the egg.” This leads her to a paint­ing that pro­vides more ques­tions than answers. As Theodo­ra tries to keep her­self and her moth­er fed, clothed, and shel­tered, she and her friend Bod­hi embark on a search all over New York City to dis­cov­er the painting’s ori­gin, amass­ing a fas­ci­nat­ing and var­ied research team as they go. The paint­ing is even­tu­al­ly revealed to have been smug­gled out of Europe by a Jew­ish girl dur­ing World War II

Theodora’s per­sis­tence and pluck make her a very appeal­ing pro­tag­o­nist. Read­ers will root for her to suc­ceed in her quest, and librar­i­ans and teach­ers will love Theodo­ra and Bodhi’s cre­ativ­i­ty in iden­ti­fy­ing research sources to answer their ques­tions about the painting. 

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 10 – 15

Relat­ed Content:

Mar­ci Lavine Bloch earned her MLS from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land, a BA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and an MA in Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture from Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty. She has worked in syn­a­gogue and day school libraries and is cur­rent­ly fin­ish­ing her term on the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Committee.

Discussion Questions