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

17 Mar

Winner of the 1968 Newbery Medal

Every child dreams of an adventure and Claudia Kincaid sets out on a trip that will change her life. She decides to runaway from her home in Greenwich because…”She was the oldest child and the only girl and was subject to a lot of injustice.” Claudia Kincaid, an eleven year old girl, chooses to runaway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also decides to take her younger brother Jamie along. Kincaid methodically plans her adventure right down to the bus fare for her and her brother Jamie. While in the museum the two children’s curiosities are peaked when they view a sculpture of an angel thought to be created by Michelangelo himself. Lady Claudia and Sir James as the two refer to each other decide to discover the creator of the angelic scupture. After visits to the library Lady Claudia and Sir James find out the person that auctioned the sculpture is Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Claudia and James eventually solve the mystery and return safe and sound to their home with the help of Mrs. Frankweiler.

Insight: 

Having actually runaway as a child I understand what little Claudia must be feeling at the beginning of the story. Getting lost amid all your brothers and sisters does make one feel quite small. The author has taken that emotion and created an entire adventure that gives children experiencing that emotion a place to take solace. This book is mystery, adventure and a dash of glam. Who wouldn’t want to live in a museum-The New York Metropolitan museum at that? Somewhat of a bohemian lifestyle, taking bathes in the fountain. When can I sign up and hopefully I don’t have to pay rent! I have never been much of a mystery person, but surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Suggested Library Activity:

Have students create their own sculpture using clay.  Show an art documentary about famous sculptors.

Bibliographic Citation:

Konigsburg, E. (1967). From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Atheneum.


Additional Book Review:

For 35 years, even readers who have never traveled to New York City have visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, courtesy of Claudia Kincaid, heroine of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Winner of the 1968 Newbery Medal, this novel charts one girl’s mission to run away from her straight-As life to somewhere beautiful-the Met. In the process, she becomes obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a breathtaking statue. A 35th-anniversary dust jacket and a new afterword by the author caps this adventure that has captivated readers for more than a quarter-century.

Publishers Weekly (November 11, 2002). Review of the book From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Retrieved from

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-689-85322-7

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