Mar 31, 2011

#TheList, No. 575: From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Back in the days of my reading the Baby-Sitters Club (best series ever?), I only pulled myself away from the girls and their discoveries of secret passages in the midst of baby-sitting (seriously, best series ever) for a few books.  E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was one such book.

For the longest time I tried to remember what this book was without googling "kids run away to museum."  For one, that's the coward's way of finding stuff.  But the real reason was I didn't want to then reread the book and be disappointed by warped memories of its mystery.  

But thanks to my need to read through the entire 1001 books on "the List," I inadvertently stumbled across it.  My predictions were right.  Sort of.

The "mystery" aspect of the book doesn't actually exist.  There's no crime, there's just a statue without an origin and a woman who knows its background.  No criminal activity or anything of that nature exists.  But it turns out that that wasn't the reason why I loved this book.  In my apparently now feeble 23 year old mind, I mixed up this story with one about children who get locked in a wax museum.  Now THAT one had the mystery/thriller aspect I was so fondly remembering.  But I digress.

The reason I loved the book was the relationship between the brother and sister.  Claudia and Jamie's constant bickering is hilarious, yet so realistic.  From her corrections of his grammar and his refusals to let her spend their limited funds, the extravagant setting of the museum is almost unnecessary for the story to work.  Well, aside from the fact that that's where the statue they obsess over is located.  But the dynamic between the two main characters carries the story completely.  The title may focus on Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but it's the children's story, not hers.

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