Sunday, April 30, 2017

CCLE - From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (1967)

And so ends my classic children's books for the month of April. And by far, my top favorite read for this month is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. This is another one of those books that was my sister's childhood favorite, but that I had never read, although I have seen both film versions, one starring Ingrid Bergman from 1973 and the other with Lauren Bacall from 1995.

But the book has a special magic to it. I can relate to a little girl who wants so desperately for her life to change, for her to be different, that she plans the perfect runaway scheme, taking with her only a musical instrument case full of clothes and her little brother who also happens to be the moneybags in the family. I remember a few times where I was so hungry to be understood and appreciated that I tried running away from home too. Although whereas I only made it a few blocks from home, Claudia and Jamie make it all the way into New York City where they proceed to make the Metropolitan Museum their home for a week. Remember, this book was written in 1967, long before they had things like security video cameras.

And that's why I love it. This is a book of glorious imaginings and possibilities, long before the incredible wave of technology wiped a lot of magic out of our lives. Claudia makes sense to me. She helps out so much at home, being the oldest child, but she feels her family doesn't appreciate her and doesn't understand her. She yearns to be special, to be different, to do something glorious with her life, to be the heroine of her own story.

And this book helps her along that path, giving her a secret to keep, a secret about the new Angel statue at the museum that may or may not have been carved by Michelangelo, but she and Jamie discover the truth by tracking down the prior owner, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

My favorite moment in the whole book is near the end. Claudia spends a great deal of time in this story wanting to learn everything about everything, to always be learning new things, ever single day. But Mrs. Frankweiler has news for her.

She says, "I don't agree with that. I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate factors, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."

That's a truly glorious sentiment, and that's why I love to take time to just bask in the things I already know, usually the things related to Christ. It's a beautiful feeling, a moment of certain clarity in the hubbub of life's craziness.

Out of all the books I've read for this challenge, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is the one I hope every child has a chance to read. It's encouraging beyond description.

And this is my farewell to Amanda's Classic Children's Literature Event 2017! I can't believe I managed to read 4 books this time around!


  1. I'm so glad your last book was your favorite! The best way to end. I don't remember tis book that well--mostly just the part about the museum, and that I liked it. Too many years ago, now.

    That is a lovely quote you've shared. It really is an excellent sentiment.

    Thank you so much for being such a great participant!

    1. And thank YOU for hosting! I'll be putting in much more of an effort in future to participate every year. I do love it so much. :)

  2. It's been so long since I've read this book but it was a favorite as a kid. I really need to re-read it. And that quote is beautiful!

    1. It really is a fabulous story! I wish I'd read the book as a child and had that experience, but if I'm ever blessed with children, this is definitely on my list to read to them!

  3. Another book I adore! So imaginative, yet believable. I want to read it aloud to my kids sometime soon. My son has read it already, but the girls haven't. Hmm... I should see if the library has an audiobook version. It would be great for our upcoming road trip!

    1. I'd be surprised if your library didn't have an audiobook copy. That would be awesome! It is such a terrific story, just whimsical enough, and if child readers are aware of the era in which it was written, they'll be amazed that technology just wasn't up to speed to be able to catch the children in the museum. I remember loving that in the movies when I was a kid!

    2. They do have it, but my son has informed me that he read it twice and Does Not Want To Read It Again (for reasons he refuses to explain), so we're getting The Borrowers for the road trip instead, and our usual stockpile of Beverly Cleary books. The Ramona books read by Stockard Channing are pure delights.

      I have never seen either of the movies!


Book Review: Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart (Kopp Sisters #3, 2017)

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