From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg
This 1968 Newbery Medal winner has been made into several movies, and at least one of them (the one featuring Ingrid Bergman
in the title role) was pretty well-known in my generation. I think so, anyway. It wasn't until just lately that I read the book, which tells an intriguing, charming, and somewhat sad story.
Claudia and Jamie have run away from home. Unlike many runaways, they didn't attempt their escape until they had a good idea of where they were going and how they were going to get there. Where? The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. How? By hiding in the bathrooms until the place is locked up at night, then sleeping in the beds in the historical displays, and digging coins out of the fountain to pay for their needs.
Though they are not always quite comfortable, and are sometimes very homesick, the pair gets along pretty well until Claudia becomes obsessed with the mystery of a sculpture, supposedly by Michelangelo, which has just been donated to the museum. Is the sculpture genuine? Only the donor, Mrs. Basel E. Frankweiler, knows. And she isn't telling!
Harry Potter fans may enjoy this story. I think it has a similar appeal--the universal appeal, to younger readers, of the fantasy of escaping from your lousy family and your mundane life. Claudia and Jame do it without magic, or at least, with a different kind of magic. Try it out!
Recommended Age: 10+
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