Tuesday, August 25, 2015

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

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Konisberg
This edition published July 2015 Pushkin Children's Books

New York City girl Claudia, a mere month shy of being a twelve-year-old, has resolved to run away from home with her younger brother, Jamie. She knows that she could never pull off the classic spur-of-the-moment departure without a destination (inevitably involving having to eat outside with the insects, and cupcakes melting in the sun); so she plans everything to perfection, including their destination: the grand, elegant, beautiful, all-encompassing Metropolitan Museum of Art...However, no sooner have Claudia and Jamie settled into their new home, than they are caught up in the mystery of an angel statue bought by the museum for the bargain price of $225. Is it in fact an as yet undiscovered work by Michelangelo, worth millions? Claudia is determined to find out, and her quest leads her to the remarkable, secretive Mrs. Frankweiler, who sold the statue to the museum - and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself...Since its first appearance nearly 50 years ago, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler has gained a place in the hearts of generations of readers - and has rightly become one of the most celebrated and beloved children's books of all time...

So I don't really have to say much about this book except that it's been re-issued this year, 48 years after it was first published.  Most librarians will already know this book, and have had the pleasure to introduce it to many young library goers over the years, so now is your chance to get your hands on a nice new copy, to put in the hands of the new generation of readers.

One of the reasons I re-read this book is to see how much it has dated, and of course it has.   The main thing that struck me was the money, more specifically the value of money and what you could buy.  For example, Claudia and Jamie go out for breakfast and for ten nickels (50 cents), Jamie had a cheese sandwich  and a coffee and Claudia cereal and pineapple juice.  In fact the pair manage to live on approx $28.00 during their week hiding out.  The other thing that I am guessing has changed some, is the security in the Museum, as appealing as the thought may be, I don't think it would be possible to live in the museum for a week these days.

Even though this book is nearly 50 years old, it is a classic, and while it has dated as mentioned above, the relationship between the siblings is timeless, and so is the mystery that they are trying to solve. I do think it has a valid place in any library today.


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