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

E.L. Konigsburg

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“Returning with a secret is what she really wants. Angel had a secret, and that made her exciting, important. Claudia doesn’t want adventure. She likes baths and feeling comfortable too much for that kind of thing. Secrets are the kind of adventure she needs. Secrets are safe, and the do much to make you different. On the inside where it counts.” (Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler)

Do you remember the injustices that you suffered when you lived at home? Whether you were the youngest or the oldest, I’m sure that you remember being “mistreated” in many ways. Well, like many of us fantasized, but most of us did nothing about, Claudia Kincaid comes up with a plan to run away.

Claudia, however, isn’t anything like I was though; Claudia planned for comfort. She thinks of everything, even down to the detail of bringing Jamie, her younger brother so that she will have money and companionship. They sleep in the comfort of a four-poster bed, hide out in bathroom stalls, and fish money out of a fountain. That’s the life, right?

Then the museum purchases a statue, from a well-off art collector, called Angel, and the mission becomes something bigger than they are. Their mission becomes to figure out the secret of Angel, and to prove that it was a famous statue by Michelangelo. It becomes the reason for the adventure, so much larger than the petty reasons that they originally ran away, a way for Claudia to become someone.

Why this book is good for children:

This book was published in 1967, and in 1968 it received the Newbery Medal (named for an 18th century seller and publisher -those who helped make children’s literature popular- of children’s books, it is an American award, given each year by the American Library Association to a children’s book author, first awarded in 1922.) This book was written for ages 8-12 and deals with some serious issues for young people.

Claudia is on an identity search, she wants to change who she is, but she is uncertain how to accomplish that change. She is looking for something, which she finds. Some parents do not like this book because the Claudia and Jamie really don’t consider how their parents feel the whole time that they are gone. Books don’t make children run away, and sometimes you just have to enjoy the book for what it is. Through reading this book, children can see what it might be like to run away without actually doing it. I read to escape my reality, and kids do that, too.

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