2007: 75. Favorite Books: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

“Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away.  That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back.  She didn’t like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes.”

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

This is one of my very favorite books of all time, and after reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which was, in my opinion, clearly influenced by Konigsburg, I decided to go back to the sources and re-read the ur-Konigsberg novel (I have read many, many of the her other books lately, if you have the strength to peruse my newly carried over archives!).  This book is so, so good - it tells the story of Claudia, who, feeling unappreciated by her parents, decides to run away.  But, knowing that she doesn’t like discomfort (see above) she decides to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  She takes her brother Jamie for companionship (and because he is somewhat of a miser and can help fund their trip).  Half the fun of the book is their planning and the fact that they were a able to get away with it.  The other half is Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. 


Mrs. Frankweiler is a wealthy woman who sold a mysterious statute to the the museum.  It may have been a Michelangelo, and the city is abuzz with the news.  Claudia is fascinated by the mystery, and eventually goes out to Connecticut to find Mrs. Frankweiler and learn the truth.  Their interaction (which makes up the last third of the book) is so fabulous - and, honestly has something pretty meaningful to say about who we are, and what we need to feel special - the power of secrets - that it makes a good book into a great one.   I am sure that anyone who might read this blog read this book in elementary school - it is a Newbery Medal winner - but if you haven’t you owe it to yourself to read it.  


Recommended for: Everyone, but especially people who like cool customers; good plans; and feisty old ladies.


Date/Place Completed: 5/30/2007; D.C.

Categories: Favorite Books; Fiction; Re-Read; Young Adult

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017