From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Elaine L. Konigsburg

 

            Twelve-year-old Claudia Kincaid wishes to teach her parents to appreciate her more, so she runs away, along with her nine-year-old brother, Jamie, as he has the needed funds to finance such an operation. The siblings choose New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as the destination of their flight, and the two begin life anew hiding from watchmen at night, avoiding detection from authorities during the day, figuring out how to engage in general hygienic and survival practices, and exploring some of the many wonders of both museum and city. During their adventure, Claudia and Jamie become embroiled in the mystery of who created an angel statute recently purchased by the institution, a query that leads them to the home of the enigmatic, elderly Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

The occasional shifts in perspective from Claudia to Mrs. Frankweiler, who is actually narrating the tale retroactively in a somewhat angry letter to her lawyer, can be awkward at times; however the narrative is generally smooth and engaging. It may be disconcerting to some that this story is—at least as a plot device—about two runaway children, and that their truancy is glamorized. Impressionable children might need an explanation over the dangers of such actions. Adolescents, regardless, will marvel at the audacity and ingenuity of the siblings. Those unfamiliar with the surroundings should find the adventure stimulating and those who have been to the museum will feel a sense of union with the protagonists. This 1968 Newbery Medal winner allows readers to recognize that adventures are just as often internal as outward journeys. While there is no sequel to the story, there is no shortage of intriguing, open ended plot points that will give the audience numerous leads to imagine further on their own