From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

(Suggested reading level: Grades 3-6)

Sometimes classic children’s books just don’t work for me, probably because I’m too critical. Amber (10) and I both adored this one, though.

Claudia is determined to run away from home to teach her folks a lesson. She knows herself well and realizes that she wants to run to somewhere comfortable and beautiful. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the perfect place. Taking her brother Jamie, who has a fair amount of cash, with her, she settles in for a nice stay. There she becomes intrigued by Angel, a statue that may or may not have been carved by Michelangelo. Claudia is determined to discover the statue’s secrets. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

“Returning with a secret is what she really wants. Angel had a secret and that made her exciting, important. Claudia doesn’t want adventure. She likes baths and feeling comfortable too much for that kind of thin. Secrets are the kind of adventure she needs. Secrets are safe, and they do much to make you different. On the inside where it counts.” (pg. 150)

This book made me want to hide out in the museum, explore its secrets after dark, when it would belong to me, not all the tourists that traipse through during the day. I can imagine it feeling entirely different when it’s empty.

There are some lessons here, I’m sure. The importance of working as a team, respecting each others’ thoughts, opinions and needs. That knowledge can you make you special.

It’s funny, though. The fact that their parent’s must have been frantic, with the children missing for days on end, is mentioned once or twice, but just glossed over for the most part. For Claudia, and therefore the reader, the parents lose their importance. The kids are self-sufficient and safe and the museum and Angel’s secrets become their focus. The trip is no longer about teaching their parents a lesson for Claudia, it’s about coming home changed.

The story is just a delight. I’m so glad I shared it with my daughter.

First published in 1967
Newberry Medal 1968
162 pages

Challenges: 100+, Shelf Discovery

I borrowed our copy from the library and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.

15 Comments

  1. I read this book AGES ago and remember loving it, though I do not remember the story at all. I’m glad it was so great for you to read as an adult, and if I see it again, I shall have to grab it 🙂

  2. This is my all time favorite children’s book! On another blog I saw that it made the 10 ten fave children’s books of all time. Amber is probably too old for Doomed to Dance (a new children’s series), but it references this book in the plot.

    Glad you both enjoyed it!

  3. Jeane- Yeah, they took a bath in the fountain and grabbed a bunch of coins at the same time.

    Ryan – Thanks for the link. We got a Harriet the Spy movie for this weekend. I’ll have to see if our library has this one, too.

  4. I had forgotten all about this one. Its been sooo long since I’ve read it although I remember I really enjoyed it. I’ll have to snag this one for my son’s book collection so he can read it someday 🙂

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.