Sunday, July 13, 2014
Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Not much for a 13 year old who is trying to keep it together to go on. So between gardening, taking care of her chickens and pickling for food, scanning the streets for useful objects and caring for her mother, Theo needs to unravel what her grandfather's wishes were.
Theo is up in her grandfather's art studio one day trying to figure out the mystery when a mouse runs up her leg and she jumps up and spills some rubbing alcohol on one of Jack's paintings - the painting unlike his other paintings. The egg. As Theo desperately tries to clean the rubbing alcohol off, the colors smear and smudge and she is devastated at losing this last bit of Jack. But when she looks closely she realizes that under the egg, a different painting is revealing itself. Could this be what Jack's dying words were about?
Theo is at a neighborhood diner owned by a friend of Jack's where she forms an unlikely friendship with Bodhi - another 13 year old who has just moved down the block and happens to have Hollywood parents. Where Theo's existence is positively Little House on the Prairie, Bodhi's is the Jetsons in comparison. Theo surprisingly lets Bodhi in on the secret painting, and soon with Theo's art history knowledge and Bodhi's internet skills, they are on the trail to the truth.
Woven into the text are explanations of fine art, as well as bits of history involving WWII. There are also real life bits of NYC living including the Staten Island Ferry, Grace Church, the Met and the Jefferson Market Library. All of these true things had me actually google Spinney Lane to see if it was one of those Manhattan streets I've walked by a million times but not walked down.
This is a solid summer mystery with a really fantastic sense of place.