This year for our bedtime reading, Miss M and I have mostly read books to correlate with our American History studies. Before beginning a serious read-aloud about the Civil War, however, Miss M and I decided to pick something more on the “light and fun” side of things.
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg is a book I am nearly certain I read in elementary school, though before we started reading I couldn’t really remember much about it other than it had something to do with kids running away to an art museum.
Claudia and Jamie are two kids from the suburbs who decide to run away together. Claudia is the instigator in this effort, and she wants not just to run away to some random place — she chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art as her destination. Claudia is dissatisfied with all the typical things — life is boring, parents are unfair, allowance is too small, brothers (except for Jamie, apparently) are too annoying. She and Jamie leave for school one day with instrument cases packed with clothes, and head for the city instead of the school building.
The two kids manage to hide well enough in the museum to not get caught each night, and find a large old bed to sleep in. They become intrigued by the mystery of a statue that the museum purchased at a bargain price, and may have sculpted by Michelangelo. Claudia and Jamie hope they can solve the mystery of the statue — a quest that takes over any other reason they may have run away.
Miss M and I had a good time with this book — it was hard to put down each night at bedtime (always the sign of a good book!). I’m sure Miss M could relate to many of Claudia’s complaints about life (especially the part about the brothers!). I think there is something appealing at any age to hiding somewhere exciting like a museum and getting away with it! Miss M and I had a great discussion about how a story like this might have been somewhat realistic in the 1960s when this book was published (It won the Newberry in 1968), it could probably not happen now — art museums have much more sophisticated security systems these days!
This is a bit of a “finding yourself” sort of a story as well. Claudia wrestles with why she really wanted to run away — what her purpose was in it and what she wanted to accomplish. I found Claudia to be very relate-able as a character — when she is a bad mood or frustrated she “needs an argument.” I may or may not resemble that characteristic. 😉 I’m sure I must have really enjoyed it as a child as well.
From the Mixed Up Files… would be another great choice for a mid to upper elementary student to read alone, but it made a very enjoyable read-aloud to share together too.
I’m linking up with Read-Aloud Thursday @ Hope is the Word!
This is a favorite from my childhood, too, and I just introduced it to my girls in the last month or two via audiobook.