Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: From the Mixed-Up Files

Middle Grade Author Shannon Whitney Messenger began Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays a while back. If you love middle grade literature, check out her blog on Mondays for a list of other sites featuring MG books.

Today I’ll talk about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.

From Goodreads: 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.

From Vicki: While narrated by Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who occasionally breaks into the story to talk directly to her lawyer in a voice that constantly left me chuckling, I could still picture Claudia and Jamie bathing in the food court fountain, and hiding in the bathroom stalls, and sleeping in the giant, dusty bed of a past monarch. The dialogue between the siblings was realistic, even all these years later, and also usually left me chuckling.

This was one of the best books I’ve read all year, despite having been published in 1967! It even inspired our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art during Spring Break. My kids were quite impressed with the Egyptian exhibit and the huge temple. I thought they might enjoy the Greco-Roman wing as well, because of their interest in Percy Jackson. They were less impressed.

But they got a kick out of some of the statues. My 6-year-old announced in the clear, piercing voice that only innocence lends, “Mommy, I can see the statues’-” and then he leaned back a little and pointed repeatedly at the front of his pants, with the kind of grin that says, “I just saw something I’m not supposed to.”

It was a proud moment.

What books have inspired your travels?

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15 Comments

Filed under Reading, The rest of my life

15 responses to “Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: From the Mixed-Up Files

  1. LOL! Innocents indeed. Priceless.
    I love books that inspire us to explore the world a little more, and to see it in a new light. Now THAT is magic.

  2. Wow, the best book you read all year. That’s the highest of recommendations. It’s funny how wee discover books from decades ago and fall in love with them. That happened to me with Ender’s Game.

  3. Zoe

    Dude – that was one of my all-time favorite, most loved books when I was a kid. Thanks for bringing that back! (Have to read it again, now :D) Also, thanks for always popping into my (under-used) blog to comment here and there. I always notice and smile when I see ya there, and get so swamped that it’s not always easy for me to reciprocate. But it was important to let you know that your visits are always appreciated. Love the blog! Z

  4. LOL! There are some real gems from long ago. I loved Time at the Top which was narrated by an adult bystander as well. Interesting how times dictate POV and such.

  5. Squee! I love this book. It’s one of my favourite rereads.

  6. I just read this book for the first time last month. How I missed it for all these years I’ll never know. Loved the wit and the conversations between brother and sister.

  7. That is funny! I always wanted to visit castles. I think it was being obsessed with 19th century English literature.

    Love MG Mondays!

  8. I wanted to live in a museum, just like Jamie and Claire when I was ten and I read this book for the first time. I totally believed it could be done. They were my heroes that year. How fun for your boys to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see the place where this great adventure/mystery took place! It’s one of the places on my bucket list, all because of Konigsburg’s book.

  9. I haven’t heard of it, and what a recommendation! Thanks for opening my eyes. 🙂

  10. Oh, I loved this book when I was a kid – I should really go back and reread it. Thanks!

  11. I’ve never heard of this but it sounds like a classic. Since I haven’t traveled in ages I can’t answer your question but, reading your post made me want to visit that museum.

  12. Hi, Vicki. Just stopping by to say hi. Hope you are well.

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