26 June 2010

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

So who wouldn't want to live in a museum filled with really cool stuff like Michaelangelo sculptures and Tudor furniture?  I wouldn't mind, although, having a skinny-dip in the Met fountain to fish for spare change might bring me up short.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a book that somehow missed my reading years.  I'm not quite sure why I never read it and I certainly had the opportunity since it was published in the 1967, well before I learned to read.  Maybe the reason had to do with the title because it is quite a mouthful but more appealing than Claudia and Jamie Runaway to the Museum or something like that.  I started my Newbery Project just so I can fill in some of the gaps.

FtMuFoMBEF (what a name) is such a fun book to read and the pen-and-ink illustrations are perfect.  As an oldest child myself I could really sympathize with Claudia; it really stinks when you're always the one to have to set the table, or watch the youngest kid, or help with the laundry (with 20-20 hindsight, I realize no one would want the kid who would live in the same clothes for weeks if given the opportunity to come within 10 feet of the laundry basket).  You're always the role model and it does stink that no one recognizes you for it; in reality, my mom was pretty good at thanking me but it was still irritating that the little bros got to watch TV and I got to load the dishwasher.  The sibling interaction between Claudia and Jamie was pretty cute, especially Jamie with his miserly/practical ways, even though the kids did sound more like a retirement-age "Odd Couple" at times instead of school-aged siblings.  The "Angel" plot was a bit of a stretch but it did lead to a situation that allowed Claudia to go home "different" since that was her object in planning the sojurn in the Museum.

I found plenty of vocabulary words in this Newbery winner.  I think I could have figured out many of them from context but I could see some winding up on vocab or spelling lists for middle school students.
knapsack, accustomed, tyrannies, ventured, forceps, tycoon, injustice, fiscal, percolator, jostling, Neanderthal, perspiration, pamphlets, flattered/flattery, quarrel, expenditures, cheapskate, exhaustion, accumulation, inconspicious, chauffeur, check (like the money kind), orlon, "chancellor of the exchequer", veto, tightwad, fussbudget, musty, anemia, sarcophagus, stencilled, embalm, vat, smoldering, pagan, dope (as in the drugs kind), conscience, sane/insane, mastaba, paupers, funnels, stall (as in delay), Kaleidoscope, commotion, boodle, caper

Next up for my Newbery Project is Dear Mr. Henshaw.

Current book-in-progress: I am almost done with The Corrections
Current knitted item: pretty blue shawl
Current movie obsession: Criminal Minds (dear CBS, you stink for messing with the ONLY show I watch on TV)
Current iTunes loop: "Reading" playlist


  1. I LOVED this book when I was a kid, to the extent that I was like a driveling fangirl when I went to the Metropolitan Museum for the first time. I think it tapped into that ultimate kid obsession...running away from home! :)

  2. I have never been to the Met - never been to New York at all! - and I'm kind of sad that the Met that Claudia and Jamie went to doesn't exist in that arrangement anymore. The museum has even more cool stuff now, but the geek in me would have loved to see what EL Konigsburg saw when she wrote the book.

  3. Anonymous11:55 PM

    This was one of my very, very favorites as a kid - must have read it a dozen times. Then a couple years ago I read it aloud to my daughter and she loved it, too. :)

  4. I loved this book so much as a kid. The first time I went to the MET (last year) I couldn't stop thinking about this book. So glad you read it!

  5. @Carrie - I *have* to make sure my nieces read this.

    @Avid Reader - I'm so glad I finally read it, too. I really must be one of the last ones left in my age group to read it! I was definitely missing out on a good thing.