06 May 2014

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: 1968 Newbery Award Winner

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book.  A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!
Basil E Frankweiler.jpg
Cover of the book: used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause

Claudia Kincaid: Looking to Feel Different

"The adventure is over.  Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough.  Except the part you carry with you."

Claudia Kincaid is twelve-years-old and feeling unappreciated.  She's the eldest child and only girl in a family of brothers, and is sure her parents do things to either harass her or because they know absolutely nothing about the ways of the world.  As a result of this preteen frustration, she decides to run away from home.  She plans out her running away.  First, she will live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Second, she will leave on a Wednesday so she can take her violin case full of clothing.  Third, she will take her second youngest brother, Jamie, because he has a radio and money.  The running away part of her plan goes smoothly, and the two siblings grow close as they transverse the museum.  However, Claudia feels the same as she did at home, as she wanted to feel different as a result of her adventure.  When she and Jamie discover a beautiful angelic statue that has recently been bought by the museum, Claudia becomes obsessed with finding out who the creator was.  Could it be Michelangelo?  That question leads the siblings to Connecticut and to the mixed up file system of the eccentric Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

E. L. Konigsburg was one of my favorite authors growing up, and to this day I own a good number of her books.  From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was the book that introduced me to this author.  I fell in love with the book because Claudia's character felt like a kindred spirit when I was a child.  Like Claudia, I wanted to feel different, and like Claudia, it took me awhile to realize that there is mystery in life around me.

That being said, this is a wonderful book from an adult viewpoint as well, as I have reread the book I own after having left it on my bookshelf for about eight years.  The idea that someone will hold on to secrets is one that rings true for adults, especially in this day and age where almost no one has secrets because of the information available at our fingertips.  I also thinks even adults wish they could run away from time to time and live in some place as cool as the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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