Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park

Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

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undereggThirteen-year-old Theo Tenpenny has a lot on her shoulders. A few months ago she watched her grandfather, Jack, collapse in the street and die. Ever since then it has been her primary responsibility to feed the chickens, tend the garden, repair the house, and pay the bills with the meager $463.00 remaining to the Tenpenny family. Theo has a mother, of course, but she stays locked in her room all day, compulsively working out math problems and drinking expensive tea.

Theo doesn’t complain, though, because she knows that if she doesn’t buckle down, everything Jack worked for will come to ruin. She does wish however that she knew what Jack meant in his last words: “Under the egg… a letter… and a treasure.” Theo couldn’t care less about a letter, but she could really use that treasure right about now. Little does she know that right around the corner lies the meaning of Jack’s words—and a discovery that will change everything.

This story could be described as The DaVinci Code for middle-schoolers. Under the Egg was masterfully written, fast-paced, and full of amazing details. There was a great deal of knowledge imparted to the reader in the form of small asides that made the story educational as well as entertaining. It is not difficult imagine a person following up on one of these asides and beginning a brand new hobby in research.

The story is set in New York, and every character jumps off the page. The cast is wonderfully diverse, and each individual is unique and memorable, even if they only appear for a moment. Of course, Theo is the real stand-out. In the beginning she is a surly, do-it-yourself-er who is closed off from the world and unwilling to ask for help. Her transition into the local community is subtle and fantastic. There are no true villains in the story, merely people living out their lives, and, in the end, the reader will warm up to even the worst of the lot.

In short, Under the Egg is the whole package, and readers of any age should check it out.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Under the Egg.

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