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From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – Review

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

Age: 9+

Claudia wanted to do more than just run away. She wanted to prove a point to her parents about the injustices at their home. So, she decided to not run away from something, but to run towards something, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. With her younger, and more frugal, brother in tow, Claudia and Jaime find themselves caught up in the middle of one of the greatest mysteries to ever enter through the museum doors.

E.L. Konigsburg is one of my favorites children’s authors, and I’m sad to say I never discovered her work until my Children’s Literature class in college when I read A View From Saturday. In this Newberry Medal Award winning title, Claudia is an incredibly smart and talented girl, saving her allowances and planning for her great runaway for weeks before recruiting her younger brother Jaime to join her. Unhappy with the distribution of house chores, Claudia decided to leave the home for a little while, to send her parents a message. Once at the museum they embark on a treasure hunt to find out the truth behind a new statue, Angel, that came full of fanfare and fame to the museum during their stay.

Although it wasn’t as fantastic as A View From Saturday, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was enjoyable. It followed a steady pace as the narrator, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler tolde story of the two children in letters to her lawyer. I loved the arguements between Claudia and Jaime, they felt very honest and very true to the types of arguements kids get into. Since the book was written in 1967 it was pretty fun to see what the worth of a dollar was, versus now. This book lends itself well to many discussions between parents and children.

1. The value of a dollar, the concept of inflation

2. The different formats of art; paintings, sculpture, etc.

3. How to read a map and travel by public transportation

4. Sibling rivarly and loyalties.  

I think the concept is really fun, I mean, what booknerd didn’t want to spend the night at a library at some point in their lives? I felt that the ending wrapped up to neatly and didn’t satisfy me. I felt like Claudia and Jaime gave in too easily and the resolution wasn’t as great as the buid-up and the mystery. The language is a bit outdated since the book is over 30 years old, but I think this will still be a fun book for younger kids. The book is a two-time Newberry Award Medal winner and has also been turned into two motion pictures.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg
Simon & Schuster, 1967
ISBN 0689853548
182 pages

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Find this book at your local library

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