Wednesday, April 15, 2015

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg
published: Antheneum Books, 1967
pages: 162

Claudia Kincaid decides that she is not appreciated in her family so she plots to runaway.  However, she doesn't just want to runaway, she wants to go somewhere comfortable, somewhere where her fine tastes are appreciated.  That's why she chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  She convinces her younger brother, Jamie, to go along with her.  But when they get to their new safe haven, they discover a mystery that is too tempting to pass up.  Claudia is determined to discover whether or not the new sculpture is in fact a Michelangelo original, and she's willing to take whatever step necessary.

This book is most every kids dream!  I know I thought it would be amazing to spend the night in a museum, an amusement park, or even Disney World.  I love being able to experience that sensation and cleverness through Claudia and Jamie.  At the very least it's great fun!

I thought the parents were oddly missing from this book.  Granted, we see the story from Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler's point of view and she doesn't know how the parents were reacting other than what was in the papers.  (I mean the kids didn't know either.) I do think that there would have been more about the parents freaking out.  Two of their kids ran away for an entire week.  That's a long time everyone!  If I had kids I'd be riding the crazy train by then.  The fact that Mrs. Frankweiler was so calm when the kids visit her and didn't immediately take them back to their parents is mind-boggling.

This book had a very interesting narrator which we no relatively nothing about.  All we really know is that Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler gave the museum a sculpture that may or may not be a Michelangelo original and her home is big and beautiful.  She doesn't have any living family and her organization is specific to her incredible mind.  Yet, she is kind and sassy and firm with the kids without being oppressive or meddlesome.  Her voice is matter of fact, but there is a sense that she cares for the kids while recounting their adventure.  I love how understated Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is in this entire book.

This book won a Newbery Award for a reason and I'm glad I decided to pick it up!

Stars: 4/5 

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