Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: Under the Egg

I'm judging this book by the company it keeps--on the bookshelf.

Sometimes we love books just for themselves. Sometimes we love them because they remind us of other great stories. It’s like meeting someone and finding out you’ve got good friends in common.

Under the Egg, the debut novel by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (published by Dial BFYR), is a good novel on its own. It’s about art, sweltering-hot summertime in Manhattan, crazy family dynamics, and library research.

But if you want to know this book by its “friends,” here are a few other books it reminds me of:

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konisburg: This, for me, is the gold standard by which art mysteries for kids should be measured. The similarities between Files and Egg are everywhere, from the main characters’ preoccupation with money to the love of museums.
    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: The main character in Egg, Theo Tenpenny, shares Harriet’s setting, some of her attitude, and her Manhattan home.


 The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt: As in Egg, two girls try to solve an art mystery together and encounter adventures along the way, traveling from Minnesota to Amsterdam.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to drag in an adult mystery, but the idea of looking, really looking, at a portrait is key to both. Truth, in both books, is the daughter of time.


There are also similarities between Egg and Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce, another great story about the power of art and specifically about works of art spirited off deep down mine shafts for their own protection.
    Based on the company it keeps, Under the Egg, has a lot going for it. It all adds up to a great art history mystery.

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