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

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From the Mixed-Up Files of
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler  
Author E. L. Konigsburg
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Children's novel
Publisher Atheneum Press
Release date 1967
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 176 pages
ISBN ISBN 0-689-71181-6

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a novel by E. L. Konigsburg that won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1968.

Story[change | edit source]

This book tells the story of Claudia Kincaid, an 11-year-old girl who feels unappreciated by her parents. She decides to run away from home just long enough to show her family what they would be missing without her. Unfortunately, she does not enjoy hardship or discomfort, so running away has lots of problems. To solve this problem, Claudia decides to stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She tells her younger brother Jamie to accompany her: he's quiet, but most importantly, he has a secret stash of cash he's gotten by cheating at card games with his best friend, Bruce.

Much of the first part of the novel details how Claudia and Jamie settle in at the museum: blending in with school groups on field trips during the day to get a free presentation, hiding in the restroom at closing time to stay there, and emerging at night to bathe in the fountain and sleep on antique beds. During their stay, they become fascinated with the newest exhibit: a beautiful statue of an angel, thought to have been crafted by Michelangelo. Their time and money are spent trying to find the secret of the statue, hidden somewhere in the unorganized files of the statue's old owner, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who lives in Farmington, Connecticut. She says,"You can know the secret only if you can find the truth from my mixed up files." They find the truth under the file "Bologna". They go home, and by their choice, Jamie and Claudia turn out to be the grandchildren of Mrs Frankweiler's lawyer, Saxonberg.

In other media[change | edit source]

This novel was made into a movie in 1973, starring Ingrid Bergman in the title role. It later became a made-for-TV movie in 1995, starring Lauren Bacall in the title role.

In the television series The Simpsons, the plot was mimicked in the episodes "Smart and Smarter," in which Lisa hides in a local science museum in embarrassment at finding her baby sister is smarter than she, and the episode "Last Tap Dance in Springfield" features Bart and Milhouse hiding out in the shopping mall for one week while on a camping trip. The movie The Royal Tenenbaums has a scence in which characters Margot and Richie hide in a museum; in the movie's DVD commentary, Wes Anderson states that this was an homage to the novel. There is also a reference to the book in The Office (US TV series), when Jim Halpert mentions it to a co-worker Kevin's daughter, Abby, and asks her where she'd rather live: the Met, or the aquarium.

Other websites[change | edit source]