Under the Egg



Last updated Thursday, July 24, 2014

Author: Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Date of Publication: 2014
ISBN: 0803740018
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2014

Synopsis: When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen. With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo's search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she'll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  From the different pictures on the cover what do you think the book is about?
•  What do you think is under the egg?

Vocabulary:
•  Dissertation pg. 9 - a long piece of writing about a particular subject that is done to earn an advanced degree at a university
•  Dumbwaiter pg. 13 - a small elevator for carrying food or goods from one floor of a building to another
•  Opaque pg. 13 - not letting light through
•  Defunct pg. 16 - no longer existing or being used
•  Skittering pg. 20 - run with tiny steps
•  Borscht pg. 25 - a Russian or Polish soup whose main ingredient is beets
•  Reverberations pg. 25 - a sound that echoes
•  Restitution pg. 26 - the act of returning something that was lost or stolen to its owner
•  Jockeying pg. 30 - to do something in an effort to get an advantage
•  Cherubic pg. 32 - a painting or drawing of a beautiful, innocent child usually with wings
•  Eccentric pg. 44 - to act in strange or unusual ways
•  Cinquecento pg. 45 - 16th century, especially with reference to Italian art and architecture
•  Iconography pg. 54 - set of symbols or images used in art and recognized by people as having a particular meaning
•  Humanism pg. 62 - renaissance cultural movement
•  Pretentious pg. 67 - having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are
•  Oeuvre pg. 68 - a work of art considered as a unit, especially the complete work of a single artist
•  Pastiche pg. 69 - a piece of creative work that is a mixture of things borrowed from other works
•  Craquelure pg. 70 – cracks on a painting
•  Guffaws pg. 83 - laugh loudly

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What kinds of things has Theo found on the sidewalk?
•  Have you ever found anything good on the sidewalk?
•  What happens to Theo's grandfather, Jack, and what does he tell her?
•  Where do Theo and her mom live?
•  How did Theo figure out Jack's message?
•  What was the painting of?
•  Where did Jack work? Have you ever been to an art museum?
•  Who does Theo meet in the diner?
•  How do Bodhi and Theo find out more about the painting?
•  Who do they think painted the painting?
•  What happens at the auction house?
•  What happens between Theo and Madame Dumont?
•  What do Theo and Bodhi research at the library? Have you ever done research?

Craft ideas:
•  Have kids create their own painting under the pop-up egg. Recreate a renaissance painting, like the Mona Lisa, have them do a self-portrait, or portrait of their family.
•  Step 1: Cut out 3 egg shapes from construction paper, any colors. The first egg will be the backing, the second egg will be the front, and the third egg will be for the pop-up.
•  Step 2: Decorate the two eggs that will be used for the front and back any way you would like.
•  Step 3: Cut out the pop-up and recreate a drawing from a renaissance painting (like the Mona Lisa) on the piece of paper that you cut out for the pop-up.
•  Step 4: Glue bottom half of the third egg to the bottom half of the first egg. Glue top half of the third egg to back of the bottom of the second egg. Glue top half of the second egg to the top half of the first egg. See example.
•  Step 5: Glue picture to the pop-up cut out.
•  Complete a word search puzzle.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!