From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
on 1967 Genres: Contemporary Fiction
, Mystery Pages:
eBook Source: Bought from Amazon Amazon
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When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort-she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because be was a miser and would have money.
Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie bad some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she bad discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.
I’m grateful to be in a class that forces me to read all the books I missed out on when I hated reading as a child! Since this book is so widely known and loved, I figured I would just list out some of my thoughts on it instead of actually review it. These thoughts come from my required reading notes for class, so they are a bit more professional than my usual fangirl reviews. I will state outright, though, that I really enjoyed this book!
– I feel like many children will be able to relate to Claudia, the main girl in the story. She is 12 years old, the oldest child, the only girl in her family, and she feels under-appreciated. She has big dreams to do something important and be noticed. I know how hard it is to be the oldest child, and I think children will be able to empathize with her.
– Claudia is also very analytical and practical. She has a plan. She chooses to bring her brother, James, because he is levelheaded and has the most money. I love that Claudia is a thinker, and works through all possible outcomes. She’s also very mature and mild-mannered for her age. She really is a wonderful example.
– I love that James is so tight with his money, even though he can take it a bit too far and drive Claudia crazy, as she is used to nice things. This idea of the value of money is a very common theme across the entire book.
– Education is emphasized as being very important. Even though Claudia and Jamie have run away and are kind of on vacation, Claudia wants them to learn everything there is to learn about the museum. They study different exhibits together and join school group field trips. Claudia is also concerned about keeping up with current events, and wants to buy a newspaper. James is curious, and asks the tour guide questions about the exhibits. The children also go to the library to research Michelangelo’s life and work, in order to solve the mystery behind the angel statue. I really like that art is the focus, as art education is not offered as much in schools as it used to be.
– The mystery aspect of the story will appeal to many children. Claudia and James decide to try and discover whether or not Michelangelo carved the mysterious angel statue. As they find more and more clues, readers will anticipate and speculate the ending. The book also encourages reader participation, prompting them to make their own guesses.
– There are some funny moments that I’m sure kids will enjoy, like when James tries to communicate telepathically with Claudia.
– I thought it was incredibly sweet that when Sunday rolled around, Claudia was concerned about their spirituality. They end up going to a chapel in the Middle Ages exhibit to say their prayers. I found this to be a wonderful example of children doing the right thing, and think parents would appreciate this little scene.
All in all, this was a very sweet book. I loved the setting, as the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite places ever. I loved the relationship between the two children, and how they stick together and really bond. I loved their quirky little personalities, their values, curiosity, their maturity, and their consciences. I loved that they wanted so badly to make an important contribution to the art world. I really enjoyed the traditional language used, and you can tell this book was written during a different time. I will definitely be recommending this book to young readers, or readers who are young at heart. It was such a fun adventure!
This book was read for my Children’s Literature class as part of my Master’s in Library and Information Science program. It is also not a conventional book review, as the books is already so well-loved and well-known by so many people, that I would rather share my thoughts instead of review it.