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

Posted May 16, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 13 Comments

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)
175 Pages
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?


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


13 responses to “…On From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

  1. I adored this book when I was a kid; the idea of running away and hiding out in a museum seemed like so much fun! Now of course I wonder what their parents were thinking, which is not really covered but they must have been frantic to lose two of their kids.

  2. I saw this on a list called "Books Every Geek Should Read to Their Kids" – haha! The illustrations look amazing but based on your review I'm thinking that readers may get more enjoyment out of this book if they're younger.

  3. Every time I go to a museum I think of this book. It would be SO cool to live in a museum (or library!), even if it meant bathing in fountains. Many of my childhood favorites don't seem to be quite as special when I reread as an adult, so I probably won't reread this one. I like having my memories of it being magical!

  4. Ok, I'm so glad to see a review of this book. I have an art history degree, so naturally, any book that has a theme like LIVING IN THE MET in it, is something I need to check out. I actually have heard of this book, but you know where? Dash and Lily's Book of Dares (have you read it yet, so awesome!)but I just forgot about it until now. THANK YOU ASHELEY for reminding me!! This looks perfect for me and my nine yr. old to read and discuss (and maybe review even?) together! And yes, I am a huge fan of MG books (add me to that list of blogger friends you mentioned:)

    I read several children's books during Children's Book Week (I have a 4 yr. old too so it is a given) but my fave: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. HILARIOUS:)

  5. This is pretty much how I felt about this one. I liked it, it was good, but not my favorite. Have you read The View from Saturday by her? It's PHENOMENAL. I also really liked the book by her that won the honor in the same year as this one. (Jennifer, Hecate, McBeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth)

    • This was actually my first Konigsburg. After Layla & Greta RAVED about it, I decided it would be an AWR for me and I picked it up during Children's Book Week, as I said earlier, but I think I was a teensy bit more underwhelmed than my girls were. I think they'll be the ones to read an re-read over and over.

      Me – I'm good. 🙂

  6. OMG this review makes me want to reread this (I read it soooooo so long ago that I didn't really remember the plot), complete with a field trip to the Met! I <3 the Met. I was so happy to see you reading this one for Children's Book Week! I also have to tell you, I just started listening to Ship Breaker for the Award Winning Reads Challenge yesterday. 😛

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