Author E.L. Konigsburg
Publisher Walker Books Ltd
Publication Date January 1st 1970
When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.
Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?
Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.
I remember reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in fifth grade. I was enamored with the concept of E.L. Konigsburg’s book. I think it was the idea of slipping away, rebelling with a theme that was similar to the first book in the Boxcar Children series ie children running away from an apparently cruel situation. I was drawn to the theme of “the grass is always greener”.
However, as an adult, the story was told too simplistically to hold up throughout the years. I think as the book was written in the 60s From the Mixed-Up Files comes across as a little outdated. It was subtle, and it pains me to say it, but the use of a phonebook shows a story’s age.
Lastly, with the plot of a prolonged stay in a museum, it reminded me of A Night at the Museum and I am not a fan of Ben Stiller.
Overall, I think the problem with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was not the plot, inventive characters or E.L. Konigsburg’s writing style it came down to the fact that it remains a young adult book. It is best related to Wendy Darling being unable to travel to Neverland. She is all grown-up and too old to journey with Peter Pan again.