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.
Finally, it's here. A survival guide for camping out in an art museum:
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.
Meet the Author
Want to dig a little deeper into the imaginative mind of a children's book author? Scholastic has all the dish on E.L. Konigsburg.
Thinking about running away? Or, um, taking a field trip? Check out the official website of the Met, and get to know Claudia and Jamie's world a little better.
The Legend and the Man
You have to admit, Michelangelo's a pretty big deal. If you want to look at his paintings and sculptures and learn more about his life, you just need to head on over to Italy. Oh, we mean this website.
And Now, Starring Lauren Bacall
From the Mixed-Up Files gets the big screen treatment—as well as a hearty dose of 90s fashion—in this 1995 film adaptation of the book.
This 1973 film adaptation stars the legendary Ingrid Bergman as Mrs. Frankweiler. Pretty big deal, if you ask us. The title is appropriately changed to The Hideaways. Easier to write on an Oscar statue, we guess.
A Chat with the Author
In this interview, E.L. Konigsburg gives us some insights into her writing process, how her kids influence her novels, and bonus, her very own mixed-up files.
Some Sound Advice
Konigsburg's advice to writers? Simple: "Finish."
The Real Source
Are you skeptical that this was based on a real story? (We were.) Well, take a gander at this old New York Times article that discusses how the Met acquired a statue for $225. It may not be made by Michelangelo, but it's still a masterpiece.
From the Mixed-Up YouTube
Straight from the Internet, here's a clip from the 1973 movie. What do you think: is it up to snuff?
Mystery on Tape
Need to rest those tired eyes? You can still catch the rest of the book in its handy-dandy audiobook form.
In this old-school book cover, Claudia and Jamie are about to embark on their adventure. We can't wait to join them.
Wow. Take a look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in all its glory. Not a bad place to bum around in for free, huh?
A True Celebrity
This is Sigourney Weaver. Oh, we mean E.L. Konigsburg. Wait… who is this?
The angel statue in the book might not be real, but that doesn't mean that Michelangelo wasn't a total boss at sculpture. Take a look at one of his most famous works, the Pietà.
Jack of All Trades
Bet you didn't know that E.L. Konigsburg could draw, too. She illustrated the pictures inside the book, like this one of Claudia picking out a super elegant bed to sleep in.
Here's a vintage movie poster from the 1973 version of the film. Ingrid Bergman still looks like a totally glamorous movie star.
Here's a real life image of the fountain that Claudia and Jamie bathed in at the Met. No wonder they didn't need to worry about money so much after they found the fountain.