From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by e.l. konigsburg, first published 1967
“Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her back.”
Here’s a very funny, easy to read, yet somewhat profound children’s book that I stumbled across in my local bookstore. Obviously others found it before me, as it is a Newberry Medal book. It’s a book I can’t wait to give my grandson, whose mother is an art historian, as the art aspect of the book is quite humorous. However, the children will relate more to the adventure of it all–running away, hiding in the Museum in New York, and finally, having a secret to treasure all their own.
Konigsburg’s writing is easy and clear, and the drama is really fairly mellow. Most of the drama is internal, as the heroine comes to discover what she really is looking for when she decides to run away. There’s nothing scary in the book, and lots of fun moments. That being said, it’s more or less a light-weight read, a nice vacation book, or a rainy day book. I wouldn’t say it’s great literature in the classic sense, but it certainly is fun. It is also slightly dated. I read it thinking I was reading a contemporary book, only to discover it was published in 1967, which by today’s standards, is no longer contemporary.
I especially recommend it for girls between age 10 and 12, and if the girls live in New York City, then this is a must-read. Californians may not get the same thrill out of the book. There are a few other children’s books, also award winners, by Konigsburg, and I look forward to checking these out as well. Meanwhile, an adventure in New York is just enough fun to make it to my list of recommended children’s books.
Buy this at your local independent bookstore