From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg
Published by Atheneum BYR
Publish Date: September 25, 2007 (this edition)
Source: My Bookshelf
Challenges: Award Winning Reads
When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.
Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?
Claudia is determined to find out. 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. – (summary from Goodreads)
From the Mixed-Up File of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg
The first thing you need to know is this:
I absolutely adore middle grade fiction.
It’s true: I’m really a grown-up young person. I could go on reading middle grade fiction for days and have my heart pound and be all bouncy about the book like it was the next J.R. Ward novel. I just love middle grade books and always have. What’s even better is that I know I’m not alone – I have some great blogger friends who eat it up just as much as I do. We get squeally over the best covers or the next book in a great series. And PUH-LEEZ: We ALL love Percy Jackson.
The second thing you need to know is this:
I fully support and seek out Award Winners & Honorees.
I love all award winners – Newbery, Printz, Alex, Hugo, etc. – you name it, I’m excited to see what the fuss is about. So last year when I heard about the Award Winning Reads Challenge, I signed myself up for it. And I loved participating in it so much! I read some absolutely fantastic books last year, some of them becoming some of my absolute favorites (looking at you, Ship Breaker). This year, I’m doing the Challenge again. While I’m a little bit late getting started, it’s better late than never – right?
The third thing you need to know is this:
Last week was Children’s Book Week –
Naturally, I wanted to throw a children’s book into my mix.
In a perfect world, I’d have been able to read all of the children’s books I pulled off of my shelves – but this wasn’t possible. So I made sure that the first one I picked was an Award Winner. I chose the 1968 Newbery Medal Winner From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It’s been on my shelf for a while and I’m almost embarrassed to say that I had never read it before. Friends, there was no better time!
Claudia Kincaid, a snarky 11-year-old who is tired of being the oldest kid and having to do the oldest-kid-stuff all the time, decides she wants to run away. Feeling she needs an accomplice, she chooses her younger brother Jamie to join her in her rebellious adventure – mainly because he was good at saving his money, and therefore he is ‘rich.’ Claudia has made what she considers a fool-proof and perfect plan: they’ll take a train to the city and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s a good plan, really, and the two do a really good job of living in the museum. Sure, they’re hungry most of the time – and also pretty dirty – but they figure out a budget for rationing food and taking baths in the museum fountains. They figure out the schedules of the security guards so they can move about freely without being caught. Claudia and Jamie actually are able to keep this up for a while, somewhat oblivious to the panic and fear their family feels back home since they have disappeared.
When the statue of the angel appears at the museum – and with it, the mystery of its creator – the duo find a renewed purpose in their rebellion. Their sole purpose becomes finding out if the great Michelangelo actually crafted the sculpture. The two spend their days dodging security and hunting down clues, and doing a pretty good job of it! Their hunt brings them to the home of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the previous owner of the statue, and their life changes from that point forward.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a really short, really fun book. It’s a perfect example of middle-grade/children’s fiction at its award-winning best. This is the type of chapter book that kids are reading in schools in elementary grades and up, and they are using it to compete in programs such as Battle of the Books. It is wildly discussable to the younger ones and fun to read for the not-so-young ones. It’s a Newbery Winner (1968!), which is supercool in my book every day. Best of all, though – it has illustrations! And they’re wonderful!
|Claudia & Jamie take baths in the museum fountains!
I liked this book, but it was not my favorite Award Winner ever. I’m certainly glad I read it, but I don’t think it will be one that I’ll read again and again and again. I can see where it will have that appeal and those fans, and I think that is awesome – as for me, I’m glad to say that I’ve read it and I think that is enough.
** I think the author did the illustrations herself. If anyone knows differently, please correct me!
Did you read anything
specifically for Children’s Book Week?
Do you love Middle Grade Books or seek out Award Winners?