The top ten of the Top 100 Chapter Books list is obviously a prestigious place to end up. Number seven on the list is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) by E.L. Konigsburg. I don’t think that it’s because it’s one of the most amazing children’s books ever written but rather that it’s a very solid and interesting book that has a timelessness to it that would easily keep it in the minds of most readers long past childhood.
What it’s about: Claudia Kincaid feels unappreciated at home so she decides to run away from home. She thinks the best place to hide would be the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the best companion would be her younger brother, Jamie, who has more money saved than she does. They set off on an adventure but unexpectedly find a mystery to solve.
Age level: Grades 3-5
Best part: There’s a lot of really interesting information in the story about history and art and it is presented in a way that makes learning fun. It’s also fascinating as a period story with automats and laundromats and small change being enough to buy a lot of things.
Worst part: The story is narrated by Mrs. Frankweiler herself and she switches between “talking” to someone in a letter and telling the story of Claudia and Jamie. I started out listening to the audiobook but changed to a paper copy because I couldn’t tell immediately when these changes were happening. It was a tad confusing.
Well, it turned out that I hadn’t ever read this book. I wish I had though because it’s fun and I would have loved that two of Claudia’s brothers had the same name as my brothers and that she was also a beleaguered older sister. I never thought about running away but I certainly longed for some space and quiet! One of my common complaints about books on this list are that they seem too dated for modern readers. This book is obviously from another time but it’s written in a way that the time seems interesting and really comes to life. The characters could easily exist today and their relationships are natural and believable. This is simply a solid story that will leave most readers satisfied.
Just a quick note to say that this was my 61st post of this project. Holy cow! Only 39 books left to read (ten of which will be rereads). I’m quite excited about the next book, Wonder, as it’s one that Z asked to buy for himself after they read it in class. It’s a newer book but has already landed on many “top” lists.