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

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


by E.L. Konigsburg

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Chapter 4 Summary

  • The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and Claudia and Jamie are free. So what do they do? Do they eat ice cream for breakfast until they're sick? Do they hang from the priceless chandeliers at the museum like gleeful monkeys?
  • No, these are kids who know routine. So they wake up early, get dressed (even brushing their teeth!) and hide their bags and belongings in various exhibits at the museum before it opens. That's called being responsible. 
  • But when they go into the bathroom stalls to wait for the museum to open, Jamie makes a critical error. He emerges too soon! 
  • A janitor sees him coming out and demands to know how he got there. That's a good question… Jamie, always quick on his feet, tells the janitor that his mother told him that he came from heaven. Not the answer he was looking for, but it leaves a good space for a quick getaway.
  • After all that running away and spending a long night at the museum, Claudia and Jamie sure are hungry. They leave the museum and go get breakfast at an automat (a sort of old-school food vending machine) and then go to the grocery store to stuff their pockets with snacks. 
  • Then, they join a school group for lunch at the snack bar. When in Rome, it's best to blend in, right? 
  • Instead of wreaking havoc or playing pranks on museum goers, Claudia decides that they'll take a much more dignified route; they're going to study and learn something at the museum every day. 
  • In a show of generosity, she tells Jamie that he can pick what they study the first day. Jamie, who doesn't want to do school stuff when he's run away from school, picks the Italian Renaissance because it's the biggest section. If anything can tire Claudia out, it's a bunch of old dead painters.
  • What's going on when they reach that section? There's a whole bunch of people in line, and at first they don't think there's anything out of the ordinary.
  • But then they see the reporters snapping up some photos. Is something exciting afoot? 
  • Everyone is in a line to see a marble statue of an angel, which isn't even that big. Claudia and Jamie wonder what the big deal is.
  • Tomorrow, Claudia decides, they'll have to get a newspaper to stay on top of those current events. Jamie is unsure, since he's kind of a tightwad with their funds and newspapers don't just grow on trees. They cost some serious green (in his world, at least). 
  • Since there are so many people crowding the Renaissance section, they go study the Egyptian section and join a school group there. It's a good thing they've found a crowd that they can blend into to go incognito.
  • Of course, Jamie doesn't get the idea of "blending into the crowd" and asks the tour guide some questions while they're going along. This gets him some serious looks from Claudia—not that he cares. 
  • The next morning, they find a newspaper for free, thereby saving them from the money squabble they would have surely had. The story of the day: the Met acquires an angel statue at an auction for only $225. But here's the catch! The statue may have been carved by the great artist Michelangelo himself. 
  • With something this exciting, they've got a mystery on their hands. A real life case of whodunit to solve.
  • They are going to be heroes, art historians, and amazing explorers. They are going to find out whether or not Michelangelo really carved that beautiful statue. 
  • The next day, the cat has dragged in even more visitors to the museum, and the Kinkaid kids get in line and wait not-so-patiently to see the angel statue again. Then, because they can't very well loiter around it forever, they join a group tour in the American section. 
  • Hey, might as well learn something…

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