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

By: By: E. L. Konigsburg

Review By: Dilan Mehta


This book has been celebrated as one of the top reads for children's literacy and won the John Newbery honor award. First published in 1967 by Atheneum, the book is wonderfully crafted. It is about a 12-year-old girl named Claudia who is intelligent and enthusiastic but is fussy and bossy. She is a leader and dramatic, and likes nice things and comfort, so when she thinks her parents don't treat her well and don't appreciate her, she runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She brings along Jamie, one of her brothers, partly because Jamie has a lot of money because he saves wisely and cheats his friend Bruce at cards, which is needed. Jamie is careful with money and a cheapskate. He is also intelligent, level headed and has a strong sense of humor, shown throughout the book.

Once they arrive at the museum, they hatch plans and eat from the vending stores. Soon after arriving, they become intrigued by the mystery of a beautiful, lovely statue called Angel and whether or not it was made by Michelangelo, the famous Renaissance sculptor, and the infamous rival of Leonardo da Vinci, the genius and celebrated painter of the Mona Lisa. It was bought by the museum for a very low price at an auction from a woman named Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the narrator of the book (The book is an extended letter to Saxonberg, her lawyer) and a wealthy 82-year-old widow. She is gentle and kind, but also rude and impatient. The kids do research, and one night, they discover Michelangelo's stonemason mark on a cloth that the statue was on. They write to the museum but are brushed off, so Claudia and Jamie book tickets to Connecticut, where Mrs. Frankweiler lives, to find out themselves.

I'm not going to spoil the ending, but this was a great book.