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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Paperback – April 1, 1998
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From the Publisher
Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away...so she decided not to run FROM somewhere, but TO somewhere. And so, after some careful planning, she and her younger brother, Jamie, escaped -- right into a mystery that made headlines!
About the Author
E.L. Konigsburg is the only author to have won the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year. In 1968, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the Newbery Medal and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth was named a Newbery Honor Book. Almost thirty years later she won the Newbery Medal once again for The View from Saturday. Among her other acclaimed books are Silent to the Bone, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, and The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World.
Top customer reviews
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Claudia is in fact rebelling against the monotony of her life, unfair distribution of labor, limited television choices and low allowance.
Ever the organizer, she carefully formulates a master plan to escape to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and enlists her middle brother Jamie to join her. Of course, there are very practical reasons that Jamie was the chosen one, and after Claudia tears down his defenses, he becomes a willing accomplice.
The story tells of their grand adventure, and how they were able to survive undetected inside the Met for a whole week. While there, they take the opportunity to learn new things, and become captivated by the newest exhibit, a marble angel that may just be a genuine Michelangelo sculpture.
There and then, Claudia resolves to solve the mystery before returning home, but unfortunately, finances are running low and time is running out for the fugitives.
Through dogged determination, they use the last of their resources to locate the former owner of the angel, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the lady of the title and narrator of the story. After winning the good lady's favorable consideration, they negotiate a deal with her, the outcome of which decides the success or failure of their adventure.
A charming story, with a little educational material sneakily tucked between the paragraphs. A good book for children with enquiring minds, and a useful tool when planning your next family or school trip to the Met.
Amanda Richards, January 13, 2005
The Newbery committee swung and missed with this one. The story line itself isn't the problem; it's the execution. The narrative frame has the old woman telling the story to her solicitor. She reports verbatim conversations the children had, supposedly garnered from reminiscences they tape-recorded. But she keeps intruding into the story of Jamie and Claudia to address the solicitor, who is presumably reading the manuscript. A straight narrative with a narrator who stayed in the background would have worked much better.
Mirroring the clumsy frame is the tone-deaf exposition and dialogue. Jamie says "Oh boloney" about every other page and is repeatedly "corrected" by Claudia for his supposedly poor grammar, including the phrase "look up under" (as in "look it up under the other name"). But Jamie does occasionally use incorrect English, in statements like, "You sure know how to nervous a guy." That's the best the author could come up with to portray a boy speaking sloppy English? She makes him sound like English isn't even his native language.
One baffling sentence after another makes its appearance: "They knew ... they would accumulate a lot of hunger" and "[Jamie washed] his mouth but not the eyes of his face." Everyone keeps saying the statue was "sculptured" rather than "sculpted," Claudia says she packed her "petticoats" for running away, and the narrator offers this anachronistic simile: "it was like trying to wrap a loose peck of potatoes into a neat four-cornered package." I know the narrator is an elderly woman, but she lives in the 1960s, not the 1860s. Petticoats and pecks are out of time and out of place here. One line near the end is an unintentionally ironic comment on the text itself: Mrs. Frankweiler says at one point that Claudia sounded "like an actress in a bad play -- unreal."
The drawings are even more unsatisfying than the text. Done by the author, they are rough sketches rather than finished illustrations. The scratchy pencil lines call attention to themselves, so rather than see a whole image, one sees these lines. Faces are elongated and dyspeptic, and postures oddly hunched. The overall effect is creepy; the book's editor should have insisted on a professional illustrator.
This book is appropriate for NO audience. Steer children away from it.
Jacob -I would give this 5 stars. MY favorite part is when they solve the mystery. My least favorite part is when they ran out of money. My favorite quote was "She looked at Jamie, and her eyes widened, M for Michelangelo."
Maddy - I think I would give this book 4.5 stars. it makes sense and it takes my interest because its first sentence is good. I couldn't take my eyes off this book. My favorite part is when she first saw the angel because she was so happy. My least favorite part is when she runs away because you can't see your parents any more and her parents miss their kids.
Tyler - This is one of the best books i have ever read. I would give it 5 stars. If i could give the book over 5 stars, i would.
Alexis - I would recommend this book to a friend. It is so funny and teaches you about a statue called angel and the statue is cool.