Such a great middle grade read...actually it kept this adult very entertained and engaged...I couldn't put it down. The setting is fantastic, NYC (yeah I am a bit biased) and more specifically the Metropolitan Museum of Art and NYPL. The characters are amazing; yes I loved Theo, she is smart, feisty, loyal, in other words, wonderful, but the other characters were equally as great...from her new BFF Bodhi to Eddie the super cool librarian (I wanted to hug the author for portraying a librarian that was cool and friendly and basically awesome.) The art history that is weaved throughout is so interesting and never too much, it just made me want to go to an art museum and explore. A near perfect book for grades 4-7, well anyone really.
*Starred Review* Following her grandfather’s death, 13-year-old Theo shoulders the responsibility of looking after her mentally unfocused mother and keeping their Greenwich Village household running with no income. When Theo uncovers an old painting, possibly an original Raphael, she hopes to save their home. But is it a Raphael? Why was it hidden under a layer of paint? Was it stolen? By her beloved grandfather?! Theo and her friend Bodhi begin investigations that lead them to a church, an auction house, the public library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Center for Jewish History, and two Holocaust survivors. Theo’s household is vividly portrayed, from her grandfather’s creative ingenuity to her mother’s tenuous hold on reality. Smart and determined, down-to-earth and insightful, Theo makes an engaging narrator as she follows a winding trail of discovery. Along the way, Fitzgerald includes a good bit of art history, which becomes as interesting as the interplay between the two friends. In the end, the mystery’s solution depends a bit too much on adult intervention, coincidence, and even amnesia to be wholly satisfying. Still, it’s a riveting narrative. Readers who loved E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer (2004) won’t want to put this one down. Grades 4-7. --Carolyn Phelan