From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E L Konigsburg

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsburg

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?

This is a middle grade adventure story like no other. The adventure is very city-based. With the majority of the story taking place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the centre of New York. The children are only a few miles from home – their father travels into the city for work so they mustn’t live far. But to them it was the most epic adventure ever. I remember that feeling and to see Claudia and Jamie going through that was lovely.

I wanted to love The Mixed Up Files… but its a much older book which hasn’t really stood the test of time. My copy was published in 2015, but it had been out of print for over 10 years in the UK. It was first published in 1968 and its not aged well. There are a lot of references to money and the cost of things which hasn’t translated to 2021 at all. I don’t know if it was also the fact that it was dollars and not pounds for me that I struggled with it to.

I also think hat the adventure that they go on is only so exciting for children. As a mother reading this book I kept thinking about the practicalities of the kids in the museum. And what the parents must have been going through! I would be out of my mind with worry if it was me. I also kept thinking how it wouldn’t be possible for them to get as far away or for as long in this day and age because of CCTV etc.

I let my boring adult head take over my enjoyment of this book which is a shame. I really hope that a child reading this will see the excitement that the children in the book saw. But also, I feel like its written in a bit of a strange way, with the narrator of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler telling the story, especially towards the end of the book when the story found the children with Mrs Frankweiler.

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was first published in 1968, it was republished by Pushkin Children’s Book in June 2015. My copy was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

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