Title: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler
Author: E. L. Konigsburg
This book was published the year I was born. I figure I was around ten or so when I read it on a trip to the Field Museum in Chicago with my father. The story of two young kids about my age running away from home and hiding in a museum caught my imagination. I think I left the book at the hotel by accident, and we had to reimburse the library.
So here it is three decades later, and this book has come back into my life because it’s part of Xy’s curriculum. We added it to the stack of bedtime reading (I often read to Xy before we go to sleep) and recently finished the book.
As is typical when revisiting places from childhood, I was surprised by how small this book was. I remembered it being longer.
I’m not sure the book has aged very well. Or maybe I’ve aged too much.
One recurrent theme is Claudia chiding her younger brother Jamie for his grammar. Mostly his grammatical sins consist of ending sentences with prepositions. This grammatical “rule” is widely discredited, and I don’t think most kids today would understand what they’re talking about. It’s nice character development, though.
But hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a week is still a pretty cool idea.
I wonder how kids from New Orleans will relate to the travails of Claudia and Jamie?
Update: Just talked to Dad on the phone and he reminded me that our trip was to the Museum of Science and Industry, not the field museum. He also expressed regret that we didn’t do more things like that as I was growing up. Words to ponder as fatherhood impends upon me…
I liked Konigsburg’s “About the B’nai Bagels” better, though “Mixed-Up Files” definitely had its moments. It took a while to get to those moments, though…