From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Introduction
In A Nutshell
In a land far, far away (the suburbs of Manhattan), in a world unknown to most (elementary school), Claudia and Jamie Kinkaid are about to embark on the adventure of their lives. And we get to go along for the ride.
Published in 1967, E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler raked in the awards. In 1968, Konigsburg became the first writer to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Newbery Honor in the same year. That's pretty much the crème de la crème of children's book awards—not too shabby for a rookie.
But this smart lady did have some help. Her own brood of three kids was the inspiration for the finicky Kinkaid children (source). In fact, Claudia and Jamie's whole adventure seems to be grounded in Konigsburg's world—as it turns out, she had all the elements for a pretty fantastic tale right in front of her. In The Mixed-Up Files, the Kinkaid kids run away to escape their humdrum lives and to take on something fantastic. But maybe all they needed was their mom's imagination. She writes,
[…] perhaps they could discover the secret of a mysterious bargain statue, and in doing so, they could learn a much more important secret—how to be different on the inside, where it counts. (Source.)
By running away to their museum adventure, the Kinkaid siblings will learn how to stand out and become individuals. After all, they come out of their little trip with lighter pockets, quite a story, and a secret that's as old as the Renaissance. Pretty good for a couple of elementary schoolers.
Why Should I Care?
Finally, it's here. A survival guide for camping out in an art museum:
- Find an old bed, possibly belonging to former royalty, and sleep in it. (No sleeping on the ground for these kids.)
- You will be short on money, but not if you discover the museum's coin fountain.
- Running away means never being cold, dirty, or bored (especially when there are guided tours to follow).
- A P.O. Box is a sound investment even though it's just empty space.
- Automats are the best way to look for cheap and affordable food when you're on the run.
Claudia and Jamie run away to the Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art). Yep, it's a stuffy, old museum. This isn't the camping out in the woods and killing animals with your bare hands kind of running away, but it's an adventure nonetheless.