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

by E. L. Konigsburg

Paperback, 1998



Local notes

PB Kon




Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1998), Edition: Reprint, 168 pages


Having run away with her younger brother to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, twelve-year-old Claudia strives to keep things in order in their new home and to become a changed person and a heroine to herself.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

168 p.; 5.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member atimco
It was delightful to revisit one of my favorite books from my childhood, this time on audiobook. E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was the 1968 Newbery Medal winner, and I've never met a reader who disliked it.

Claudia Kincaid is tired of the boring routine of
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her life and her family's lack of Claudia Appreciation. She wants adventure... but it has to be comfortable. No roughing it for Lady Claudia! And so she decides to run away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She brings her brother Jamie along for the ride, because he can keep secrets (and also because he is rich, being a confirmed miser at age nine). But soon the adventure becomes more than just a fun flight, as the children become engrossed in the mystery of the museum's newest acquisition, a sculpture called Angel. Did Michelangelo sculpt her?

The characters are just so real. I have a friend who swears Claudia is her literary twin—Claudia, with her love for planning and being in control, for fine things and (let's face it) extravagance in money matters. Jamie is quite different, much more practical than his older sister (and much tighter with the purse strings). They interact just like real siblings do, arguments and childish logic and all. Sometimes it's hilarious; other times it's poignant (but never sappy... you just can't get sappy about two characters so pragmatic and realistic as Claudia and Jamie).

The story is narrated by Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who is telling it to "my dear Saxonberg," the children's grandfather who also happens to be Mrs. Frankweiler's lawyer. Her excuse for telling the story is to explain certain changes in her will—but I think she just relished the adventure and the telling thereof more than anything. As a young reader I always knew she was quite a character, but rereading this as an adult gives me a new perspective on her. She reminds me of my grandmother in a lot of ways... a collector of antiquities, with rooms full of treasures and a lifetime of stories, a woman with a practical, humorous, determined outlook on life and relationships. And stubborn!

What Konigsburg does brilliantly is to make the story more than just a fun tale about two kids who run away from home and stay in a museum. They set out to learn everything about the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but end up learning something else, too.

Claudia said, "But, Mrs. Frankweiler, you should want to learn one new thing every day. We did even at the museum."
"No," I answered, "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 inside 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 facts, and they begin to rattle around inside you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."

Jan Miner reads this audiobook and her narration is wonderful. Her voice for Jamie is especially good. It's a quick read at just over three hours, and I relished every minute. Highly recommended!
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LibraryThing member riofriotex
I can’t believe I didn’t read this book back when it was published and won the Newbery. I would have been 10 or 11 and I think I would have loved it, and identified with Claudia, the main character.

I think this story has held up well over nearly 40 years because it does have a good plot and is
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appealing to children. Konigsburg’s "Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth" was named a Newbery Honor book the same year (that feat has not been repeated).

An actress named Jan Miner narrated the audiobook. She did a great job with the voice of Mrs. Frankweiler, the narrator, but her take on Jamie was too loud and had too much of a (Jersey?) accent.
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LibraryThing member TrishNYC
This is the very cute story of Claudia Kincaid and her brother Jamie who decide to run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Claudia is dissatisfied by her current status of being the oldest of three children and feeling a perceived loss of affection by virtue of
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this position. This dissatisfaction leads her to the decision to run away from home in part to escape the monotony of chores, academics and a life that she found unfair and boring. She convinces her younger brother Jamie to come along primarily because she knows that he has money, something that she realizes is essential if she is to survive New York City.

This was a very enjoyable tale of the the search for fun and adventure that probably sets all young hearts racing. Claudia and Jamie sleep in beds from centuries ago, take baths in the fountain and basically get a daily private tour of the museum all while trying to make sure they do not get caught by the guards. Claudia stumbles across a mystery involving one of the museum's newest exhibits and sets on a quest to determine the work's provenance.

For such a short book, it manages to create a vivid picture of Claudia and Jamie's adventure through the city. As you read, you imagine yourself experiencing the daily escapades of the kids. You are amused, intrigued and concerned for the kids as they experience living in a big city with no parental care. One thing that was clear to me was the fact that life in 1967 was very different from life today. I realized that some of my concerns were the concerns of a person living in 2010 and were probably troubles that were alien to 1967. I was also impressed by the simple but effective way that the author conveys the emotions of children. From their feelings of injustice being wrought on them by their parents or siblings, their need to feel special within a family, to their sense of fearlessness that can lead to recklessness.

I really enjoyed this book.
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LibraryThing member BrittN
The mixed up files is about a sister and brother that run away from their home. They come to a famous museum and that is where they live out of. While they are there they began to look for the person who made this certain sculpture. They find out who made it and decide to learn more about
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Personal Reaction:
I enjoyed this book. It was a great read and I would recommend it to any reader. It was so good I want to read it again!

Classroom Extension Ideas:
1. I would use this book in a unit about museums. I would talk about where the brother and sister where and talk about sculptures. I would have the students make their own sculptures and then write a page about what museum they would want their sculpture to be in.
2.I would use this book in a unit about family. I would talk about how the brother and sister stick together and figure out the mystery. I would have the student write a mystery story that involves teamwork.
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LibraryThing member Stewartry
So, what exactly would be the category for lingering behind and taking up residence in the Metropolitan Museum of Art? I'll go with criminal trespass till I learn otherwise. So - when I commit criminal trespass, should I blame Thomas Hoving, or E.L. Konigsburg? I recently finished False
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, and just finished From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, so I'm already making plans. Enough time has gone by since the publication of the book - 1967 - that the guards must have gotten out of the habit of checking the bathroom stalls quite so thoroughly, so there's no reason I can't use the same ruse to stay in the museum overnight. Let's see ... They say in the preface to the book that the fountain that used to be in the restaurant (which I believe has been moved) is now in Georgia, but there is one called the Pan Fountain - oh, and the reflecting pool around the Temple of Dendur, of course, of which seventy-five cents of the change in the water is mine anyway.

Oh, and in place of the fictional Angel of the book which may or may not have been "sculptured" by Michelangelo, there is Young Archer, which may or may not have been sculpted by Michelangelo. It's karma.

I will run away - taking the train; I'll pop for a taxi, and use the method Claudia and Jamie did to infiltrate and entrench myself into the museum. I don't know about sleeping in one of the antique beds, though; that seems a little squicky. And fragile. (And why would it be made up with sheets and all?) There must be an employee lunch room or something, or an administrative office with a couch or something. I'll figure it out.

So let's see. I don't have an instrument case like the kids who run away hid their socks and underwear in - but I have a pretty big pocketbook. And I don't have to check it. Hm. The laptop is probably not viable; I could charge it, but unless they have WiFi - well, I could use the time to finish the book.

The Mixed-Up Files is wonderful. I may not (may not) go through with this plan, but it's a really fun fantasy. It hit me hard because of all my reading about the Met lately - Hoving talks a lot about living with the art, about handling and having personal experience of it, and - - it's just mean. It's something I crave, and something I'll never have (unless I implement Plan E.L. Konigsberg) - the idea of having the whole of the Met to myself for the better part of every day is ... heady. Especially the part shown on the cover of this edition - the Arms and Armor hall. I love that place.

Except for those pesky alarms and sensors and such. The sixties were such a sweetly innocent time. And the kids in this book are sweetly innocent, and so very smart; it's a pleasure to be in on the planning and execution of such a great plan. The pen and ink illustrations in the edition I read were horrible - muddy, almost more inkblots than illustrations; they have to have been copies of copies of larger images. But the writing was great fun, despite the point of view of an adult added to a couple of years of watching Criminal Minds and Without a Trace making the kids' parents' terror a little more important to me than to the kids, but that's okay. The detailed money calculations were ... startling. I don't know why I never read the book when I was a kid, but I'm glad I did now.

And I really, really want to go hang out with the Young Archer.
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LibraryThing member amygatt
I read this book in elementary school and I loved it. I liked it for the same reasons that I liked "The Ruby in the Smoke" - it gave me a mystery to ponder (regarding the statue Angel) and it also taught me about Michelangelo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This book was fun and it made me
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think, and this is a sure recipe for a good read. When I volunteered at an elementary school library, I learned that this book was used in the 4th grade curriculum to tie in the art and social studies curriculums, and that at the conclusion of the unit, students went on a field trip to the Met to tie together all that they had learned. I think that is a great example of how to use this book in education.
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LibraryThing member sharmon05
The narrator and point of view in this story was very good. The story is told from the perspective of an old woman who met the children while they were running away. She is an omniscient narrator and knows the entire story. This is a very interesting take on the book since it is written as a story
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to someone specific. This provides the book with a sub story that is very interesting. This book is a good example of a realistic fiction, because the events could take place, but most of all the characters are very relatable to the readers.
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LibraryThing member Othemts
When I was in junior high school, I had an idea to write a book about a couple of kids running away from their home in suburban Connecticut, taking the train to New York City, and settling in for some adventures. I made a few attempts at starting the book but the idea never translated to the page.
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Which is a good thing, because if I had written that book it would have been accused of being totally derivative of From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The story is about a brother and sister from Connecticut who take a train to New York and (in an interesting twist I hadn't considered) move into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's a good story that's a mix of adventure and mystery with a lesson for children coming of age. Jill Clayburgh does an excellent job narrating the story as well. Now that I've caught up on another book I never read as a child I must endeavor to make sure my kids read it too.
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LibraryThing member ctpress
Claudia and her brother Jamie runs away from home and decides to live in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

They find out the daily routine of the place and are soon wrapped up in a mystery about a new statue at the museun - whether it is really a genuine Michelangelo or not.

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first Newbery award book that didn't capture my attention. It was the narration that irritated me and also the children without any concern for their parents just running away annoyed me.
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LibraryThing member melissarochelle
When I heard about E.L. Konigsburg's death last week, I was sure I'd never read any of her novels. But as soon as I started reading this book, it felt familiar. Some piece of my brain must remember reading this as a kid. Even as an adult, I could relate to Claudia -- she just wants something
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different. At times, I think we've all felt it. Great book, great charcters.
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LibraryThing member kandlekrazey
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler is a story of two children whom leave their Hi-class home in search of the freedom they so desperately thought they needed. There was the planner, Claudia, and the money smart brother, Jamie. They stowed away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and
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live among the exhibits. They aim to learn as much as they can in the evenings after everyone has gone home for the day. They bathe in the fountain, collecting coins as they go, and wash their clothes at the local laundry mat. One day the ANGEL arrives. There is much talk of the “ANGEL” being a Michelangelo original but no one is completely sure. In their after hours quiet, they find a M stamped into the bottom and aim to contact the seller of “ANGEL”. The seller is in deed Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler who is very interested in their travels and promises to give them proof that it is a Michelangelo original if they divulged every detail about their recent stow away caper. Jamie tells her every detail and she in turn goes to this long wall of filing cabinets. Her filing system was not your usual one; she had items labeled by where she purchased things instead of by artist name. She had purchased the “ANGEL” in Bologna, Italy. Michaelangelo wrote the piece of paper and on the reverse side he described his “ANGEL”. Mrs. Frankweiler in turn left the piece of paper authenticating “ANGEL” t the children in her will. Claudia thought it was an awesome treat to have such a secret and Mrs. Frankweiler did not mind leaving her lifelong attorneys children such a valuable heirloom.
This story was one I had to read twice. It has such details that some things can be easily over looked. For example I never figured out how she knew they were the grandchildren of her lifelong attorney. It was inferred that due to the news coverage it was broadcast.
In a classroom setting I would have this story read over about a 2-week time frame. We would discuss different exhibits that were talked about and might even be a good idea to sculpt something individually and coming up with our own little authentication to verify it was indeed made by us.
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LibraryThing member teddy5
A good example of realistic fiction because, while this is a far fetched and improbable story, it is still within the realm of possible. It deals with real issues that young people often feel, such as neglect, injustice, or maltreatment within the family system and what to do about it. The
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adolescent involved, Claudia, decides that to solve these problems she will run away and bring her frugal little brother, James, with her. They end up finding ways to maneuver residing in a museum in New York City for a week. During that time, they have many adventures, including bathing in a fountain in which they find money and attempting to solve a mystery surrounding a new sculpture in the museum. This piece was or was not created by Michelangelo himself and they went out to prove its authenticity. They research and send a letter to the museum stating that they had definitively proven that it was, indeed, Michelangelo who was the sculptor. Upon receiving a reply letter, they found that the museum was already aware of the clue they found and needed further evidence. Discouraged, they ventured to the donor's house. With great negotiating, Mrs. Frankweiler led them to discover the absolute proof that the statue was formed by Michelangelo, the original sketches of the angel statue. Upon departure to return to their frantic parents, Mrs. Frankweiler told Claudia and James that the secret was to remain a secret but she was leaving the sketches for them in her will. They returned home with great understanding for secrets and a better appreciation for each other and home life. Ultimately, this story helps the reader discover the joys of solving mysteries and being with those they love even when they are annoying.

Media: charcoal
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LibraryThing member hatease
This story is about a young girl named Claudia who wants to run away. She runs away to the Metropolitan Museum and has the best adventures.
Coming of age of girls

LibraryThing member scholz
I only vaguely recall reading this book as a child... maybe I didn't even finish it... but the idea of running away to a museum definitely stuck with me! So many children's stories are about siblings striking out on their own, either because they run away or are orphaned. This one has such an
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innocence because you know they will be reunited with their parents, and yet a great wisdom too, because Claudia feels a need to discover something, to have a secret, to become different. There's a lot to think about in this story, as well as a lot of fun details like bathing in a fountain, etc.
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LibraryThing member susan.suihkonen
I found this book to be quite engaging. Probably best for older children who can understand when to keep a secret. The author's note at the end also adds a very interesting perspective to the story.
LibraryThing member Queezle22
What better place to hide out than a museum! This book ignited my imagination when I first read it at age 10, and more than 30 years later, a recent re-read showed it still held up.

Perfect for pre-teens to pre-seniors!
LibraryThing member Mluke04
This is an example of realistic fiction because children can run away from home and if they are clever enough, find a new home in a museum. Children are able to solve mysteries and are able to do research.
The characters in this book are believable and realistic. They fight, they cry, and they feel
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disappointment. The reader is able to relate to the characters. They are very well written.
Media: N/A
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LibraryThing member PamelaDLloyd
I read this when I was just a kid and it is one of those kids' books that holds up excellently well when reread as an adult.I found this mystery to be truly unique on so many levels. The mystery plot, itself, is unusual, centering around the origins of a statue in a museum, rather than a murder.
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This is a book in which kids run away from home, but not so much because they are unhappy, as because they are on a quest. Their adventures as they explore and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art are truly wonderful. I spent many years secretly trying to save up enough change for a bus ticket to New York, with the intent of living in the museum, as they did, and it added a special little extra bit to the trip, when I was finally able to visit as an adult. Alas, I've never stayed overnight.
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LibraryThing member devafagan
No, I never read it as a kid! I'm glad I did -- it was an enjoyable story and I was intrigued by the details of how the kids actually went about living in the museum.

I listened to an audiobook version, and it was quite good.
LibraryThing member alliecipa
This is a story of a sister and brother- Claudia and Jamie- who run away from home and stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They decide to try to learn as much as they can while they are there when they come across a mystery. The Angel statue may or may not have been sculpted by Michelangelo
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himself but was only sold to the museum for $250! Their attempt to solve this mystery leads them to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who they hope can help them find the answers they want.
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LibraryThing member jgoitein
While the title of E.L. Konigsburg's book is a mouthful, it is a quick and delightfully sophisticated and witty read. Written as a continuous letter by Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, herself, the narration delves into the middle class world of suburban children with a dissatisfaction of routine, a need
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to be appreciated and a taste for adventure in the big city.

And these are no ordinary children. Claudia is a very bright twelve year old with a head for planning and an ingenious idea of running away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her nine year old brother, Jamie, is a perfect compliment to her; where she is cautious and organized and has a highly developed sense of the aesthetic, he is adventurous, with common sense and a large cache of pocket money. And she's wiley enough to get him to share.

Konigsburg creates these two very individualistic characters that many young adult readers can relate, to or want to be like: their secret, intelligent planning, their ability to be invisible within a large crowd. Anyone from a big family will appreciate how the author captures the deep and wonderful bond between the two siblings, whose conversations about how to travel, how to spend money, what, where and when to eat bring about many comical situations.

Students who love the Night at the Museum movies with Ben Stiller will enjoy reading how the children avoid detection while in the Met (impossible today given security cameras and motion detectors), how they navigate the large gallery rooms and still found time to learn about the art and artifacts.

students who love the Ben Stiller adventures at the museum films can appreciate the escapades of the children in the museum.
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LibraryThing member jl221
I had read E.L. Konigsburg's The View from Saturday and loved it. So I was very interested in reading this book when I came across it in my son's Scholastic flyer. We ordered the book and began reading it this summer. This is the first publication and Newberry award winner by Konigsburg. In the
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story, a young girl, Claudia, and a young boy, Jamie, run away from home and hide out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is not that they are particularly mistreated that they run away from their parents, but that Claudia desires to live some significant experience. Jamie is brought along because he has saved some money that can be used to support them while at the museum. The book relates their experiences from hiding out from guards, to sleeping in the exhibits, to bathing in a fountain. Ultimately, they are presented with a mystery as to whether a displayed statue was sculpted by the famed artist, Michaelangelo. This investigation results in them visiting the home of the lady who sold the statue to the museum, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Mrs. Frankweiler is an eccentric elderly woman who grows to understand the children's reasoning for running away and desire to hold on to something exceptional. She allows them to look through her files to discover the secret she has been keeping of the statue's origin. The book is written in the form of a letter Mrs. Frankweiler is writing to her attorney, ultimately requesting that her will be changed to include the children.

I enjoyed reading this book to my son each night. As she did in The View from Saturday, Konigsburg captures the heart of the characters which makes them come alive. Konigsburg shares an afterward in this edition which includes a copy of the acceptance letter for its publication. In the afterward, she shares how different New York City is from the setting of the book in the 1960's, yet how many things would impact the characters in the same way.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
A 1968 Newberry Medal award winning book, Konigsburg is in fact one of only a few who have won two Newberry Prizes for her work.

Claudia Kincaid is twelve and bored with her suburban life. Convincing her younger brother Jamie to run away from home, they escape to live in the Metropolitan Art Museum
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in New York City.

For one week, they go undetected by guards, discovering items in the various galleries and hitching themselves to tour groups so they can learn and get some free food in the process.

While following a crowd to see a new acquisition of a small marble angel that could possibly be a genuine Michelangelo, ever the mensa student, Claudia probes to find more about the statue.

Locating the previous owner of the art work, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Claudia and Jamie seek to know more than the esteemed collectors and curators of the museum.

This is an easy/breezy creative book. While I cannot highly recommend it, because the Metropolitan is one of my favorite places and because it is such a fascinating place, I did enjoy seeing it through the eyes of the children as they made discoveries late at night when no one was watching.
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LibraryThing member ck2935
Ok, this is the last of the books from my childhood that I am adding. I am only adding the ones that had the greatest impact on me, minus the "Fox in Red Sox" and The "Black Bear". "The Bronze Bow" and "Johnny Tremain" though may have to be added. Another book about running away except this time
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the kids live in the Metropolitan Museum.
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LibraryThing member michcall
I read this book in fifth grade and remembered loving it. I picked it up again and reread it. What a clever idea! Something that kids dream about. It makes me want to visit the Metropolitan Museum.

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