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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

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When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would live in comfort-at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She invited her brother Jamie to go, too, mostly because he was a miser and would have money

The two took up residence in the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different; and she found a statue at the museum so beautiful she could not go home until she had discovered its maker, a question that baffled even the experts. The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler And without her help Claudia might never have found a way to go home.

162 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1967

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About the author

E.L. Konigsburg

64 books1,095 followers
Elaine Lobl Konigsburg was an American author and illustrator of children's books and young adult fiction. She was the only author to win the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year (1968), with her second and first books respectively: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth. Kongisburg won a second Newbery Medal in 1997 for The View from Saturday, 29 years later, the longest span between any two Newberys awarded to one author.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,511 reviews
Profile Image for Stephanie.
141 reviews72 followers
October 11, 2007
OK, I'll admit it: I freakin' hate the Newbery Medal. Any time I see it on the cover of a book, I'm 98.5% sure it sucks. All of the books that have been given this "honor" seem to have been written with the intent of teaching kids some crappy history lesson. There's no magic or mystery to any of them...reading these books is akin to eating dry toast when you know damned well you could cover the bread with butter, cinnamon, and sugar. I mean, if you really want to martyr yourself, do it creatively, like St. Agatha, who got her breasts cut off. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy life, because nobody wants to hear your whining.

I digress. The point of this rant is that there is a major exception to my "I Hate Newbery Rule," and it's this book. The idea of two kids hiding out in The Metropolitan Museum of Art is so brilliant, it sends me running running to the stereo to do a wild, naked dance to The Muffs's version of KIDS IN AMERICA. I love Claudia's obsession with art and mystery, as well as Jamie's passion for gambling. And the siblings' interplay just can't be beat. Snappy dialogue, brilliant plot, evocative subject...what was the Newbery panel thinking when they awarded this book its highest honor?
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
December 21, 2021
From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg

Twelve-year-old Claudia Kincaid decides to run away from her home in suburban Connecticut, because she thinks her parents do not appreciate her and she doesn't like it.

She takes refuge in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York City, with her brother Jamie.

She chooses Jamie as her companion partly because he has saved all his money. With the help of an unused adult train fare card that she found in a wastebasket, Claudia finds a way to get to the museum for free using the commuter train and a very long walk.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و سوم ماه نوامبر سال2009میلادی

عنوان: فرار به موزه نيويورک؛ نویسنده: ای.ال کنیگزبرگ؛ مترجم شهره نورصالحی؛ ویراستار فریبا نباتی؛ تهران، پیدایش، سال1387، در216ص، شابک9789643495459؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

هشدار: اگر میخواهید این کتاب را بخوانید از خوانش ریویو خودداری کنید

داستان دختر دوازده ساله‌ ای به نام «کلودیا» است؛ که با خانواده‌ اش در حومه ی شهر «نیویورک» زندگی می‌کنند؛ «کلودیا» که فرزند ارشد، و تنها دختر خانواده است، به علت بی‌توجهی خانواده، و یکنواختی زندگیش، تصمیم می‌گیرد، با برادر نه ساله‌ اش «جیمی»، به موزه ی «نیویورک» فرار کنند؛ او فکر همه چیز را کرده است، هزینه رفت و آمد، خوراکی، و جایی برای ماندن؛ «کلودیا» و «جیمی» نزدیک یک هفته، در موزه می‌مانند، روزها میان جمعیت، به عنوان گردشگر موزه، از بخش‌های گوناگون آن، دیدن می‌کنند؛ و شب‌ها، با پنهان شدن در گوشه‌ ای، شب را به صبح می‌رسانند؛ روزی، هنگام گردش در موزه، متوجه مجسمه‌ ای شصت سانتی، به نام فرشته می‌شوند، که مردمان، برای دیدن آن، صف بسته‌ اند؛ آن‌ها پی می‌برند، کارشناسان موزه، در پی هویت سازنده ی مجسمه، هستند، و عده‌ ای باور دارند، که آن مجسمه، ساخته ی دست «میکل آنژ» است؛ کشف هویت سازنده ی مجسمه، همان چیزی است، که «کلودیا» می‌خواهد؛ «کلودیا»، نیاز به تغییر دارد، دلش می‌خواهد، قهرمان شود، و فرارش از خانه، به یک دردی بخورد؛ «کلودیا» و «جیمی»، تصمیم می‌گیرند، هر طور شده، راز مجسمه را، کشف کنند، و بفهمند، چه کسی واقعا، سازنده ی مجسمه، بوده است؛ در پایان داستان «کلودیا» و «جیمی»، نزد خانم «فرانک وایلر»، صاحب پیشین مجسمه، می‌روند، تا راز مجسمه را، کشف کنند، و خانم «فرانک وایلر»، به آن‌ها اطمینان می‌دهد، «میکل آنژ»، سازنده ی مجسمه است؛ اما از آن‌ها قول می‌گیرد، این راز، تا پس از مرگش، نباید برملا شود؛ حالا «کلودیا»، وقتی به خانه برگردد، یک راز دارد، چیزی که او را، با پیش از فرارش، متمایز می‌کند؛ حالا دیگر لازم نیست، «کلودیا» مثل یک قهرمان، به خانه برگردد؛ همین که خودش می‌داند قهرمان است؛ کافی است؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 13/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 29/09/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Laura Wallace.
186 reviews91 followers
October 17, 2009
I first read this book when I was 7-going-on-8. I read it, and then I read it again. Then I read it again, and kept going until, according to my personal mythology, I had read it 11 times. And then I stole my school's copy of the book. I hadn't picked it up for many years since then, but this book is woven into my neural pathways every which way, and rereading it still makes me love it more.

The Mixed-Up Files drew me in with its details and paraphernalia
(the instrument cases! the transistor radio! mac and cheese and baked beans!), something I always loved about runaway and/or survival stories. It introduced me to New York City--the New York of the 1960s (the Automat!)--and appealed to my love of museums and old things. I also loved the tone: I knew even then when I was being talked down to, but Konigsburg clearly respects her readers and expects them to be smart. The framing and Mrs. F.'s voice made the book feel more adult. And then it hit me in the gut with its fully-developed characters and its non-preachy life lessons, subtly divulged.

I was never the sort of child who wanted to run away, really, but Claudia's simmering ennui and frustration and impotent rage hit me right away. I had never really seen these feelings described on paper in this way, but I felt them, all the time. Like Claudia, I was privileged, smart and loved, but I wanted something more. And I still do. And this book is all about how that's kind of a good thing.

The biggest life lesson I absorbed from this book, or maybe it's not a lesson so much as just a way of looking at the world, is the importance of maintaining and nurturing the integrity of your self and being an individual (but not necessarily in any obvious way), while recognizing other people's individuality and that their way of seeing the world is (usually) just as valid as yours. I'm not talking about different beliefs or clashing opinion so much as personalities. Claudia and Jamie's relationship illustrates this beautifully. This bit of wisdom is one of the most fundamental things I've ever learned and also one of the hardest to live out.
Profile Image for Julie G .
870 reviews2,684 followers
May 13, 2020
Wow, I haven't been this uncomfortable about two related family members bathing naked together since Out Stealing Horses.


Why? Why would the author write a scene of a prepubescent 12-year-old sister frolicking naked in a bath with her 9-year-old brother?

I'm three years older than my brother, and when I was 12, I can promise you, I would have been far more inclined to hold his head underwater for five minutes than I would have been to stand naked before him, splashing him.

Come on now. Make it stop.

I turned to my resident 12-year-old after the first mutual bath scene, to check in on her thoughts of the sibling bath, and she contributed one word: revolting.

And what's with the old lady narrator, interrupting the narrative flow with her nonsensical comments and weird flirts to the old man lawyer, “Saxonberg?” Get a room you two, and gross.

The title? What, because for five minutes there's a scene near some file cabinets? How about Night at the Museum? It was 1967 when this was published, and that title was still up for grabs.

How about the frantic parents, whose kids decided to “disappear” on them, wondering, for a week, if two of their children had been abducted by murderers? My stomach hurt so badly at the prospect of these parents not knowing if their kids were alive, it made me despise both of the selfish brats. Their excuses for running away were pathetic at best, and I couldn't be humored in any way at how the parents must have suffered from their antics.

From where I'm sitting, this is a book, like Harriet the Spy that you've got to fall in love with when you're young, otherwise the plot points are just too weird to swallow down, as an adult.

Three stars for some memorable lines and a strong narrative (albeit one with a horny old woman interrupting it at every turn).
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.7k followers
July 8, 2021
all i would like is to be a girl in the greater new york area who spends her entire allowance on hot fudge sundaes, up to the point where she saves it to go to the city and live in a museum and sleep in a historical bed the description of which i STILL remember, approximately 15 years later.

seeing as this does not seem like too much to ask for, i will begin my wait now.

part of a project i'm doing where i review books i read a long time ago and think about hot fudge sundaes.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,482 followers
August 25, 2017
This was my son's first book he read entirely in English (he is a rapid read of books in French already!) so I felt I needed to read it too. What a pleasant surprise! We both loved Jaime and Claudia and their adventures while running away and camping out in the Metropolitan Museum in NYC. It is a touching book with lots of life lessons; my favorite quote is "Happiness is excitement that has found a settling place, but there is always a corner of it that keeps flapping around." (P 155)
I have to thank NH Senzai's excellent Shooting Kabul for referring to this book because otherwise I would have missed it!
I would consider this required children's reading for the timelessness of its characters and the nostalgic value of what life was like in Manhattan back in the late 60s. Splendid!
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 4 books571 followers
February 25, 2017
My oldest grandson Philip is an avid reader, a trait my wife and I like to encourage. He'd encountered this Newbery award winner in his school library, and wanted to own a copy, so we gave him one for his 11th birthday last fall. When he discovered that I'd never read it (it was first published in 1967, by which time I was in high school, and focusing my reading on more "grown-up" books), he wanted to share it with me, so he loaned me his copy. (Last year, he likewise introduced me to another kid's classic, Stone Fox.) I'd heard of the book, but had no real clue what it was about.

Elaine Konigsburg (like some other women writers in the earlier decades of the past century, when the book trade was more male-dominated, she hid her gender behind her initials) became an instant success in children's literature with this essentially debut novel. (It was technically the second one she had published, but both books were submitted at the same time.) That's a deserved tribute to her skill as a writer; the craftsmanship of the book is of a pretty high order.

As we learn from the outset through a short "cover letter," the body of the book is supposedly a narrative composed by Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to her longtime (and long-suffering) lawyer, Saxonburg, to explain a change she wants made to her will. She's a childless 82-year-old widow, as rich as Croesus, and definitely eccentric, imperious and opinionated. Ordinarily, she's not the sort of narrator many kids would readily relate to; but she immediately focuses her tale on two kids, Claudia (age 11) and her nine-year-old brother Jamie. In fact, it's not immediately made clear what relation Mrs. Frankenweiler is going to have to the events of her story. That's a deft move on the author's part, giving child readers child protagonists to relate to, and a bit of mystery as a hook. Claudia's made up her mind to temporarily run away from her home in the New York City suburb of Greenwich, dragging Jamie along for the ride to get the benefit of his assiduously-saved allowance money, and plans to stay in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (an actual institution that's still there today) for the duration of her adventure. The expedition will involve both children in a mystery surrounding a Renaissance statuette of an angel that may or may not have been sculpted by Michelangelo --and in some life lessons and self-discovery as well.

Like most books aimed at this age group (older pre-teens), this chapter book is a short (182 pages of main text) quick read. It's also well-written, with the kind of story-line that keeps you turning pages compulsively to see what happens next. The author had a genius for characterization; the two kids are extremely realistic embodiments of children their age (while being nicely differentiated individuals with distinctive personalities and speaking styles). She also laces her writing with an undercurrent of dry humor that frequently crops out. Both the humor and the characterizations, as well as the subtleties of the psychological content, IMO, might actually be perceived and appreciated better by adult readers than by kids. The plotting isn't predictable, and we get one surprise near the end that fits like a jigsaw puzzle and was foreshadowed by clues hidden in plain sight, but which most readers won't see coming. On the whole, it's a kid's book that can hold adult interest. Still, I think I might have liked it better as a child than as an adult reader. Why, you ask?

As I said, Claudia and Jamie are very realistic child characters; I could recognize a lot of traits of my grandkids in them. But these include a lot of traits that (even though I love my grandkids!) are very calculated to drive me up the wall, and I expect many other parents and grandparents have the same reaction. These kids aren't evil or cruel, but they do have a basically self-centered orientation and ethical cluelessness at times, an aversion to responsibility and a feeling that mild chores are an insufferable imposition. Add to this a capacity for sibling rivalry thick enough to cut with a knife, and a willingness of a younger kid to check his brain at the door and let an older sibling lead him around by the nose into outrageous behavior that he should never even have considered. (Been there, see that every day --want to scream at it.) The whole runaway scenario factors into this. Claudia isn't an abused, unloved child trying to escape a horrible home life. She's a pampered, well-to-do kid who doesn't think she's pampered enough, and just wants to run off to subject her family to "a lesson in Claudia appreciation." Yes, she mailed them a letter (which they wouldn't get until at least the next day!) telling them not to worry --as if they wouldn't! Konigsburg keeps the adults in Claudia's family largely offstage, so that readers can put them out of mind. But you don't put people you genuinely love out of mind, and you don't put them through hell just for purely selfish reasons --and as a father and grandfather myself, whenever I'd let myself think about it, I knew Claudia and Jamie were putting the adults in their lives through hell. Yes, if I'd been the parent, I'd have been unspeakably thankful and relieved to get them back safe. But I might also have grounded them for about 47 years, and possibly packed them off for a semester at a boarding military academy in northern Alaska as a lesson in family appreciation. (Okay, I might be exaggerating slightly for effect. :-) ) That colored my reaction to the tale in a way that it might not have as a kid. (It's also why I recommend the book only for mature kids, who wouldn't blindly consider these characters role models and be encouraged to run away themselves!)

Interestingly, a book I read last year, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (b. 1966) has a similar plot structure: his protagonist is a runaway who sets out for, and hides out in, another real-life New York museum (the American Museum of Natural History). Selznick isn't a Goodreads author, so I don't know if he ever read Konigsburg's classic; but I think it's possible that he did, and that it may have been one of his literary influences. The difference between the two books, though, is instructive (and helps to explain why I rated the later book higher): Selznick's protagonist Ben manages his escape in a way that won't leave his family members insane with worry, and does tell a family member where he's going. And he has a psychological need to go, to deal with a question that's crucially important to him in learning who he is; it's not just a whim, and he doesn't pull a nine-year-old sibling along into the venture.

The edition of this book that I read was a 35-year anniversary reprint, with an afterword by the author, which explained a bit about the models for the characters in her own family, the changes in New York City and the Museum itself since she wrote, some of the inspiration for the story, the reason she never wrote a sequel (and I agree with that decision, because I think this is a story that's truly artistically complete in itself, as it stands) etc.; I enjoyed this feature, and felt it enhanced the book. At the time, she mourned the recent passing of both her husband and her longtime editor, who'd both loved the book. Sadly, Mrs. Konigsburger herself passed away as well, in 2013. But this book alone would be a worthy legacy (and she wrote other prize-winning tales as well!), and I give it a solid rating of three earned stars!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
October 23, 2017
99c Kindle sale, Oct. 23, 2017. This short novel is a classic of middle grade fiction, and the 1968 Newbery Award winner. Eleven year old Claudia decides to run away from home.
She was tired of arguing about whose turn it was to choose the Sunday night seven-thirty television show, of injustice, and of the monotony of everything.
You can tell this is set in an earlier time, before our media entertainment options multiplied. :)

Because her little brother Jamie is a lot better at saving money than she is, she invites him to run away with her. And because she wants to run away to somewhere beautiful and elegant, she chooses to run away to the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art. They hide when the museum closes for the evening, and then have the place pretty much to themselves at night.

But then Claudia and Jamie come upon a new MOMA acquisition: a lovely angel statue donated by one Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Could it be a Michelangelo sculpture? The art experts aren't sure. And suddenly Claudia has found a mystery she deeply wants to solve, something that may alter her plans.

It's a short, enjoyable MG story, and I've had a paperback copy of it since I was a young teen. It's survived a few rereads and bookshelf purges over the years, so this one was a keeper for me. It really captures the thoughts and feelings of pre-teens. A wealthy older lady, Mrs. Frankweiler, narrates the entire story (for reasons that become apparent later on); I loved her dry humor and no-nonsense demeanor. She reminded me of one of those sharp-minded, crusty, but ultimately kind dowager duchesses that occasionally grace the pages of my Regencies.
Profile Image for Bobby Simic.
306 reviews7 followers
July 17, 2008
There are certain, special books that I don't want to give up once finished. I guess to prolong the separation and perhaps to somehow physically absorb whatever magic it possesses, I'll find myself pressing my palms against the book, sandwiching it. It doesn't happen very often. But it did happen with this book.

I had never read this book growing up. But I'm so glad that I finally got around to it.

What is it that makes this book so wonderful? Let's begin with Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler's clever narration. Her voice(like the character) is frosty and matter-of-fact but only on the surface. There's also a warm undercurrent that shows the esteem she has for these kids and their adventure.

Then add to that the relationship between Claudia and her brother Jamie. It's terrific and so well done. Like many siblings, their dynamic is a balancing act between affection and irritation, respect and disdain.

And then you've got the "cool factor" to the story: Who hasn't thought about interacting, let alone living, with the artifacts in a museum? The author clearly respects kids, a must if you want to create decent children's literature. By allowing Claudia and Jamie to treat not only the Met but New York City as their home and playground (and not get caught) exemplifies Konigsburg's apparent belief in how capable and astute children can be.

And like all great children's literature, the book possesses a wisdom, a lesson, and a worldly vision that will benefit the reader -- young or old -- and provide him with a better understanding of his surroundings.

There's a bittersweetness to this book that I can't quite put my finger on. Why was I teary-eyed at the end of this book? Was it because I felt compassion for the childless Mrs. Frankweiler who seemed to have finally found the family that had escaped her before? The portrayal of a New York and the Met that will never be again and that I'm sorry I missed? The conclusion's truth in the importance of having secrets and wanting to feel special?

I think I was just sad to have this one end.
Profile Image for Sara the Librarian.
739 reviews317 followers
December 31, 2020
I defy you to tell me you didn't, at some point in your life, want to run away and live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. E.L. Konigsburg so perfectly captures the ultimate fantasy of any child who has ever visited this amazing place so brilliantly it almost feels like I got to go too. I DEMAND that you make your children read this and yell "YOU CALL YOURSELF A BIBLIOPHILE!" at you if you haven't read it yourself.


Re-read this for the first time in years as a bed time read aloud for my sons. There's nothing more wonderful than rediscovering a childhood favorite and experiencing in an entirely different, equally wonderful, way.

I would read a hundred books narrated by Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler, the lovely, ancient, melancholy millionairess who tells the story of two disaffected suburban children on a grand adventure as runaways in the greatest museum in the world. She's hilarious, very wise and sadder than I remember and I imagine she speaks in that lovely, Gatsbian fake English accent they taught in NY finishing schools in the 30's. She probably weighs fifty pounds soaking wet and dresses in perfectly tailored cashmere sweaters and tweed skirts.

You can practically feel her longing to be part of Jamie and Claudia Kincaid's story and just a bit under the surface is her longing to be part of their lives.

This is one of those perfect books that is just as good now as when it was written. Yes you'll have to explain to your kids what an automat is and (this was painful) a telephone booth but its well worth it.
Profile Image for Alex.
1,418 reviews4,326 followers
February 13, 2018
"I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."

Here's a book that's lost none of its charm. Siblings Claudia and Jamie run away together and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a week, uncovering a Michelangelo-related mystery and, along the way, learning a few things about family, grammar, and the joy of knowing secrets.
"New York is a great city to hide out. No one notices no one."

Like all the best children's books, its example is disgraceful. The two children have only the dimmest sense of the panic they've thrown their parents into; they break into a museum repeatedly; and they cheerfully throw backpacks into sarcophagi and sleep in historically valuable beds. They also steal. Children who follow their advice will be very bad children. In addition, it's logistically improbable that any of this would work.
"Everything gets over, and nothing is ever enough. Except the part you carry with you. It's the same as going on a vacation. Some people spend all their time on a vacation taking pictures so that when they get home they can show their friends evidence that they had a good time. They don't pause to let the vacation enter inside of them and take that home."

But for engendering a sense of the mystery and magic of art, and a sense of adventure, it is exemplary. And it's a wonderful New York book, no less today than it was in 1967.
"If you think of doing something in New York City, you can be certain that at least two thousand other people have that same thought. And of the two thousand who do, about one thousand will be standing in line waiting to do it."

Which is why I don't do brunch.
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,196 reviews398 followers
September 4, 2018
We expected to like this book a lot, on the whole we liked it, we found it well written and it kept us guessing what would happen.

We enjoyed the start, the planning of running away was fun. The idea of running away to a museum really appealed to us, when I was small I so wanted to spend a night in a museum and look around whilst it was dark and quiet, so I was really looking forward to this part. We were both full of admiration that these runaways had remembered to take their musical instruments, full kudos for keeping up the practise whilst on the run

We read this as a read aloud and after the beginning which we enjoyed it went a bit flat for us. For some reason we thought this might have some night time adventures in, but it didn't. I thought there might be some sort of magic or time slip or some interaction with history or art but there wasn't. The mystery of Angel didn't really interest either of us

We read a copy with an afterword by the author and two pages that were what the author described as, as close to a sequel as you will get.

Profile Image for Trish.
1,880 reviews3,383 followers
December 11, 2020
Aaawww. That's my initial thought after this book.

This was simply quirky and heart-warming and therefore the perfect Advent read! Not to mention that I found out about it from another book (and no wonder that Dash & Lily would know and love this tale).

12-year-old Claudia has a problem: she feels underappreciated in her family and treated unfairly, too. Her solution: running away. Well, actually running to (that makes much more sense to her). Thus, she decides to leave home and hide away in the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC) until her family has learned their lesson. Since she'll need funds to do that, she decides to take her brother Jaimie on the trip as well. What a bonding experience this turns out to be for the two!
They make it to the museum and live there until a mysterious but gorgeous statue is sold to the museum cheaply. They are convinced it's by the famous sculptor Michelangelo but then why was it so cheap?!
The two decide to investigate and thus meet the titular Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (who has not just one secret that the two need to discover).

Most adventure stories for/with children are far too overblown in their plot - simple isn't always boring/bad and this book proves it.

A wonderful adventure for young and old full of wit (Claudia's plan really was genius and she really had thought of everything) and charm and a lot of funny scenes!
I chuckled regularly and was delighted from start to finish. This should be heralded as a classic that everyone should know!
Profile Image for Aldrin.
56 reviews253 followers
March 28, 2011
For his autumnal yet incandescent family tragicomedy, The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson drew inspiration from a handful of literary works remarkably possessed of whimsy and insightful wit. Chief among these is the late J. D. Salinger’s short but utterly perceptive book, Franny and Zooey, whose title characters are members of the Glass family, the basis for the dysfunctional Tenenbaums in Anderson’s film. The eccentric director, drawing further attention to his enchantment with Salinger’s fictional family, even went so far as to pattern a quirk of one of the central characters in The Royal Tenenbaums after a scene in Franny and Zooey, where Zooey, the male protagonist, spends an inordinate stretch of time in a bathtub. Anderson did the same, that is, cutting out a scene from a beloved book and stitching it into his film, to the 1968 Newbery Medal-winning novel by E. L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. In a brief episode of childhood rebellion in Anderson’s film, two of the Tenenbaum siblings run away from home and live in, of all places, a museum. They must have read Konigsburg’s novel--Anderson has, certainly--for that’s exactly what Claudia and Jamie Kincaid, the leads in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, did.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (hereafter referred to simply as Mixed-Up Files, despite the book’s delightful roller-coaster of a title) is narrated with a quaint sense of humor by a wealthy old lady named Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Mrs. Frankweiler’s purportedly true story sets off when Claudia, fed up with being unfairly treated in the Kincaid household in Greenwich, Connecticut, and tired of "the monotony of everything" decides to teach her parents “a lesson in Claudia appreciation” by running away from home. Considering her very low tolerance for discomfort, she chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as her hideaway, and considering her very low supply of money, she persuades her penny-pinching brother, Jamie, to join her.

With the snazzy art museum as their home-cum-playground, sister and brother make the most out of their newfound freedom, and Konigsburg, via Mrs. Frankweiler, seems to make the experience of being away from the safety and convenience afforded by home a tad too easy and pleasant for her protagonists, who attempt to live on less than twenty-five dollars and a few sets of clothes for God knows how long in the Met, an otherwise comfortable dwelling place. They hide in the bathrooms at opening and closing time to evade the museum personnel, sleep in ancient canopy beds while pretending to be 16th-century monarchs, bathe in the restaurant fountain while picking up wish coins to add to their dwindling funds, and mingle with visitors for their daily dose of art history. But these aren’t small plot conveniences so much as products of the complementary nature of Claudia and Jamie’s individual strengths: most notably, she’s excellent at planning while he’s good at (not) spending. And so, even as they bicker mildly about mostly trivial matters, they become thick as thieves.

“The greatest adventure of our mutual lives,” as Claudia enticingly described their stint as truants and runaways when she was just trying to enlist Jamie, becomes just that when they stumble upon a mystery surrounding the museum’s latest acquisition, a statue of an angel believed to be the handiwork of none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti. Claudia and Jamie, as inquisitive and ingenious as any kids of their age (he’s nine years old; she’s “one month away from being 12”) would dare to be, and seeing that they’re right where the object mired in mystery is, sets out to uncover the angel’s secret, if any.

This is no The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons for kids, thank you very much. In this little book where most of the events, big and small, also happen in a famous museum and an Italian Renaissance man also gets plunged into the story, there’s no room for bloated conspiracy theories and cheap thrills. In the first place, they’re not what you’d expect from a sophisticated narrator like Mrs. Frankweiler, who at old age has amassed great wisdom and a great deal of items for her art collection besides, as a newspaper article Claude and Jamie chance upon states and as the proud octogenarian herself boasts around the time she finally enters the story as a supporting but not insignificant character (while retaining her role as narrator, of course).

What we’re treated to instead is a charming and smartly plotted novel that at first blush seems focused on the excitement of being a defiant and carefree youth and later appears entangled in the revelations, impressive in spite of their scant amount, hatched by the pair in their investigation about the true maker of an antique sculpture. But as they go about their kid detective work they, Claudia especially, unknowingly encounter a path towards self-discovery, and Mixed-Up Files ultimately becomes fixed on an eye-opening search for what makes a person different and beautiful inside--a living work of art, in other words.

Mixed-Up Files is structurally a written account addressed to Mrs. Frankweiler’s lawyer. In her letter prefacing her main narrative, she discloses that “I’ve written it to explain certain changes to my last will and testament. You’ll understand those changes (and a lot of other things) much better after reading it.” There's no doubt that her lawyer did understand. “I don’t come in until much later," she continues, "but never mind. You’ll find enough to interest you until you do.” Wes Anderson sure did, and anyone who has ever been a child and who goes on to read (and re-read) Mixed-Up Files does, sure enough.

Originally posted here.

Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
Want to read
September 23, 2018
Oh my god, I have been trying to remember this book for YEARS. When I was in elementary school, my entire grade watched the movie adaptation of this book in the auditorium together. I could not remember the name for the life of me, and I'm so happy I stumbled upon it! I MUST read this soon.
Profile Image for Rebecca Grace.
158 reviews8 followers
April 5, 2008
I read this years ago as a child and just finished re-reading it with my 7-year-old son. It actually touched off a lot of interesting discussions about what has changed and what has stayed the same in the years since the book was first published in 1967 (my son piped up with all kinds of objections throughout the book, like "what about the motion detectors and the lasers around the art?"). Of course today admission is no longer free at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, no one is allowed to bring in backpacks and instrument cases, and it took me a good 20 minutes to explain to my son what a typewriter was and how it's different from a computer keyboard. Given these dramatic changes in technology and security, it's even more to Mrs. Konigsberg's credit that her book has endured throughout the decades, remaining as relevant and compelling as ever to each new generation of children and inspiring their interest in museums and art history. There is a terrific issue of Museum Kids available for free download on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's web site, written for kids, that includes an article written by the author about how she was inspired to write the book, as well as follow-up information to help kids find the different exhibits described in the book. It also tells which exhibits have been changed or removed, including the restaurant fountain which now resides in South Carolina.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,775 reviews281 followers
March 12, 2016
A book I’d throw into the categories of “Book With Titles that are Better than the Actual Story” and “Books with Plot Summaries that are Better than the Actual Story”.

I grew impatient with this book. Why did Claudia want to run away? If it was her family that was the problem, why did she take one of her brothers along? She picked the Metropolitan Museum of Art as her refuge, but she didn’t seem to enjoy much of the art there. The whole story is written as if Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is telling it to her lawyer, but we don’t really see Mrs. F well and the lawyer doesn’t seem that interested in the story. The resolution of the story seemed too easy (Mrs. F already had a document that solved the mystery). Claudia and her brother seem oblivious to the pain and fear they have inflicted on their parents. And for what? A rather unsatisfying week spent in a museum? What was it Claudia wanted? To be a celebrity? To be recognized? I honestly can’t believe the document Mrs. F promised Claudia would satisfy her in those ways.
Profile Image for Rachel Hartman.
Author 10 books3,809 followers
May 15, 2012
I rated this five stars a long time ago, out of pure nostalgia, without really remembering much about the book beyond "they stayed in the museum." Well, I just finished reading it out loud to my son, and I would just like to reaffirm: YES, five stars. No question.

The plot is so subtle, compared with so much of what is being published now! But wow these kids are individuals. Wow they talk like real humans and have a real and wonderful relationship with each other. My son described Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler herself as "half forensic scientist, half philosopher." She's also 100% unapologetically prickly old lady, and 100% real herself.

It's so subtle, I was afraid my son would be bored or wouldn't get it, but he loved it. Really loved it. It was such a wonderful thing to read aloud together. These are the times he'll remember, I hope. I certainly want to hold those moments tightly in my heart.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,586 reviews1,987 followers
August 30, 2017
I enjoyed this one more than the kids, it's an odd little book. The central story does capture the imagination of a child like few can, but the trappings are so fussy and odd. I think the narrative device (the titular Mrs. Frankweiler has a first-person narration) confused the kids, and I don't think they really connected with the themes of secrets and adventure. There are some very complex ideas here. But all those things work beautifully for adults and after you read it as a child all those things fall away and you just remember the magic.

I related to this book as a child, myself the oldest of four children in a house that was too loud for my liking. Claudia is a stickler and so was I. Neither of my children is much like Claudia, though, and it's that specific personality type that is this book's ideal reader.

In fact, I may be this book's ideal reader right now, as an adult who remembers it fondly. On the other hand, the kids loved the stuff about the museum and I wished we still lived close by so they could see it.
Profile Image for Drew.
449 reviews504 followers
March 2, 2016
This was a ridiculously charming little book.

I think the thing that made it such a great children's book even though I'm definitely not the target audience was because I really grew to care for the main characters, Claudia and Jamie. Reading about them getting into scrapes and going on adventures filled me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Claudia and Jamie had a wonderful sister-brother relationship that was portrayed realistically. While they teased and got annoyed by one another, they also grew closer over the course of the novel and were constantly looking out for each other.

Jamie couldn’t control his smile. He said, “You know, Claude, for a sister and a fussbudget, you’re not too bad.”
Claudia replied, “You know, Jamie, for a brother and a cheapskate, you’re not too bad.”

When Claudia plans to run away from home, she brings her younger brother, Jamie, with her. They pack their clothes in a trumpet case and take the train to New York where they hide out in The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It made me feel so cozy to follow these two wonderful children as they camped out in the museum, hid from the night watchmen, fell asleep in the bed of Marie Antoinette, and bought food with their pocket money from cafés.

This was so heartwarming and was just the kind of uplifting story I needed. I read it while sipping a cup of tea and couldn't have had a more enjoyable reading experience.

I liked how the ending was satisfactory without getting too sentimental. While it never became philosophical, Claudia and Jamie were able to bring back memories from my childhood and filled my heart with a longing for adventure.
Profile Image for Liza Fireman.
839 reviews141 followers
July 12, 2018
Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, but she is not the one to run away without a plan, and she is not the one to run to the woods. It is too dirty, too hard, and she has some classy dreams. She decides to take her brother Jamie (yes, she did consider her other brothers, but decided that they are not right for this). And now, with a plan, she tells her brother that they are running away on Wednesday. Why Wednesday? since it is band day, and you will find Claudia's plan enchanting and really smart.
To her luck, or smart choice, she find out that Jamie is rich. He has a lot of money that will help the two of them in the running away plan, She slips an envelope in the snail mail to tell her parents about the running away, and that please they should not worry or call the FBI. And off they go, on their way to New York, to hide in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oh, yeah, this is Claudia Kincaid for you. Hiding in an sixteenth century luxury bed.

The fist half was outstanding. I loved it and it was a true five stars fun and bold. I started liking it a bit less when the two kids got into solving the museum mystery of the angel sculpture. So that part was a bit more 3 stars for me.

Overall, it is a really great book. And it is great to go back to read children's books. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Jane.
384 reviews602 followers
February 17, 2018
5 stars for this old favourite!

I love children's books that don't dumb things down. E.L. Konigsburg never over-explains anything, she simply expects the reader to follow along and figure things out. She totally nails the interactions between the kids without ever becoming too "cute".

Although this book is somewhat dated, it's still thoroughly enjoyable, and I would hate to see it fall the way of so many children's classics that are modernized through heavy-handed (and often random) insertions of today's technology.

May 22, 2020
I loved this book so much as a child and it was a pleasure to revisit it all these years later. Who didn't fantasize about running away from home and having a wonderful adventure like Claudia and Jaimie? As an adult I love going to the Met, so the fact that they chose the museum to run away to appealed to me even more now.

I didn't remember much of the story, but one detail that always stuck in my mind was how the siblings took a bath in the fountain and used the coins that people tossed in to supplement their income. The other thing I remember is the same feeling I had when I finished it this time: it ended too soon. I would have loved a few more details about what happened after; how did their family and friends react to the whole thing, did they really visit Mrs. BEF, etc. But overall a charming, enjoyable story.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
221 reviews36 followers
May 13, 2016
I have to admit that I'm pretty disappointed in this one. The premise of kids running away to and living in the Metropolitan Museum of Art sounded pretty fantastic, but it really wasn't very exciting at all. There was a lot of "filler" dialogue and constant rambling on that didn't really drive the story. The "secret" about Angel just seemed pretty anti-climactic. Half of the book seemed devoted to describing bathing, eating, and planning things, and the "mystery" aspect just got lost. Claudia was really kind of a selfish brat, and her banter with Jamie seemed less charming and witty and more petulant. It just could have been so much better.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,912 followers
December 9, 2020
When we get right down to it, this short YA novel from the late '60s has everything a bookworm needs while growing up. A little rebellion, a little running away, and a lot of time spent in a museum. You know, the kind of thing that absolutely leads to heroin and smack.

These troubled kids.

Seriously though, I liked the mystery and adventure and liked it even more because it was referenced directly in Dash & Lily's Book of Dares. A spiritual successor? Maybe!

Definitely worth the read.
Profile Image for Madelyn.
84 reviews95 followers
July 18, 2016
I honestly have no idea why, but there was something about this book (I guess the adventure?) that I absolutely loved when I was younger.
Really cute story of two kids that run away to live in a museum, skirting the cops and sleeping in the priceless beds and having a series of adventures in the museum!

If you like this and want more, visit my blog, Literary Cafe: www.literarycafe.weebly.com
Profile Image for Chris.
557 reviews
September 11, 2017
January 1967 Birthday Read

I want to go back to 1967, where it was free admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the daily New York Times cost a dime. And I want to be 12-years-old and live in the Met! This was another great read that I think I missed as a young reader. Brother and sister runaways, a little bit of a mystery, and a whole lot of art, this was a really fun read!
1,818 reviews63 followers
September 2, 2019
An absolutely wonderful book. This is the story of a sister and brother who run away from home because the girl is victim to family injustices. They run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they encounter The Angel by Michelangelo. I just love the concept of 'coming home lost'. Do yourself a favor and read this and capture the thrill of being twelve years old again.
Profile Image for Zoe's Human.
1,337 reviews67 followers
July 16, 2022
I wish I had discovered this as a child. I find it charming as an adult. At the correct age, I might have found it magical. It's a nice adventure. Somewhat didactic of course, but not overly so. I like what it says about differing values.
Profile Image for Krista.
411 reviews1,008 followers
September 3, 2022
Cute story of a brother and sister running away from home and hiding out for days at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. They get caught up in a mystery involving one of the statues. Fun read, but not my fave.
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