From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – book review

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
By E.L. Konigsburg
Juvenile Fiction
Realistic Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of, Claudia decides to teach her parents a lesson by running away. Because she’s a planner, and accustomed to a certain standard of living (and comfort) she decides to invite her younger brother Jamie (who saves ALL of his money) on her escapade. Jamie is up for the adventure, but doesn’t realize that Claudia intends to run away to NYC and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While he’s imagining nights spent out in the woods, Claudia finds them a nice curtained bed in the museum – part of one of the displays – and has them learning something about everything in the museum. Their plan is to stay away long enough to be missed (and for their parents to be ‘sorry’), but when they stumble upon a special exhibit – an angel sculpture that *might* have been done by Michelangelo – Claudia falls in love with the piece and the mystery surrounding its origins and attribution. Their investigation into the statue’s provenance leads them to an eccentric elderly woman by the name of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who compiles and narrates their story for her files.

I read this over 20 years ago and it was one of my favorite books for a very long time. It can probably now be considered historical fiction, as it was first published in 1967, and some of the details (like cost of living!) are very different now. I still appreciate Claudia’s intelligence and determination (and her capability and independence), and Mrs. Frankweiler’s sharpness. I dearly wanted an adventure of my own after reading this, and spending even one night in a museum after hours would have been so exciting!

Reviewed by YA Librarian