January 31, 2009

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

There are books that I remember from my childhood, which everyone read, but I didn't. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is one of these. I seem to think that all of my friends read it when we were in the 3rd grade. Maybe it was later. In any case, I was reading my own thing (if it really was the 3rd grade, it would have been the Hardy Boys). I have amended that oversight, and gladly so ...

The story is about two children, a girl and her younger brother, who run away from home and hide out in a New York City Museum. While there, they commit themselves to learning and, naturally, to avoiding capture.

In time, they come to develop a new quest, solving the mystery of who made the museum's new acquisition, an angel which might have been made by Michelangelo.

No, I don't encourage running away. However, I could relate so well to the kids. I can't tell you how many times as a child, I had dreamed of sneaking away into some great adventure of knowledge and mystery, being the only one who knew a secret, and so on. This book captures that spirit brilliantly. That it plays out in a fantasy about running away is one of those elements of the escape into fantasy.

It's not an adventure for the athletic types ... this book is an adventure for those of us dubbed "nerd," the kids who would actually revel in the opportunity to spend hours learning everything there is to know about a museum.

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone --regardless of age -- who loves knowledge and finds learning exciting. If you're the type of person who thinks that a day spent in the library is a perfect use of time, then you should read it. If you never did as a child, go ahead and do so now.

I realize that giving 5/5 stars to a Newbery winner (in 1968) doesn't exactly seem like a bold step, but I'm referring no less to how I felt about it now, at age 35.


  1. Great book for a first Book Nook review! It's one of my all-time favorites, thought it's been at least 10 years since I read it last. It's ironic that I just started listening to this book on tape today...before I read your review.

  2. My grandson would love this book!!! Thanks for a chance to win it for him!!!


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