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

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by Konigsburg, E. L. (Atheneum, 2007 ISBN 9781416949756. Order Info.) Novel. Grades 3+.

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Review

cover art

Claudia is running away from home -- not that home is so terrible -- it's just that she feels unappreciated there. She takes her younger brother Jamie with her largely because he manages money better than she and has some accumulated allowance. Of course, she doesn't intend to rough it away from home. They hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with some very clever ruses -- Claudia has thought of everything.

They then become involved in a mystery that the people in the museum are trying to solve: Did or did not Michelangelo sculpt the small statue of an angel? The woman in the title turns out to be the owner of the statue and a relative of the children and it's in her files that Claudia solves the mystery of the statue.

Claudia is a bright, curious girl with a great need to be noticed. Sheís a little pretentious, choosing to hide out in the museum, but can be very practical when the need arises. Claudia's brother, Jamie, is as determined as Claudia to find the answer to the mystery. And finally, Mrs. Frankweiler, who turns out to be their grandfatherís employer, seems aloof at first, but sees the humor in the situation and come to admire the children for their gumption.

This is a fun book, part adventure -- part mystery.

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Things to Talk About and Notice

  • List the clues as to the artistís identity.

  • Talk about the way they avoided being caught. What surprised you most? What would you do?

  • Who is telling the story?

  • Why do you think Mrs. Frankweiler didnít reveal the answer to the mystery.
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Activities

  • Find out about Michaelangelo.

  • Visit an art museum.

  • Find out how a museum researches the pieces it displays.

  • Find out about the art mentioned in the book.

  • Write to the Metropolitan for a brochure.

  • Write to the Chamber of Commerce of New York City for information.

  • Make your own plan for hiding out in a public building or museum.

  • Brainstorm possible scenarios for what happens next. Write a sequel.

  • Retell the story from Mrs. Frankweilerís point of view.
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Related Books

  • Museums and Works of Art

  • Bjork, Christina - Linnea in Monetís Garden - Farrar, 1987 Hutchins, Pat - The Mona Lisa Mystery - Greenwillow, 1981 Koch, Kenneth - Talking to the Sun - (Holt, 1985) Marks, Claude - Go In and Out the Window: an Illustrated Songbook for Children (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Holt, 1987) Rudstrom, Lennart, & Larsson, Carl - Home - Putnam, 1988

  • Ventura, Piero - Michelangeloís World - Putnam, 1988

  • Running Away from Home

  • Hermes, Patricia - Who Will Take Care of Me? - Harcourt, 1983 Orphaned boys run away from their guardians who are going to put one of them, who is retarded, into a special school. Their escapade nearly ends in disaster, but ends up with a compromise.

  • Holman, Felice - Slakeís Limbo - See page ___.

  • Macken, Walter - The Flight of the Doves - Collier, 1970 Uncle Toby, their legal guardian, abuses them so terribly that Finn and his sister Derval run away. Heading for their dimly remembered grandmother in Ireland, the children cross the Irish Sea and head to the west.

  • Thomas, Ruth- The Runaways - Lippincott, 1989 Fleischman, Sid - By the Great Horn Spoon - Little, 1988. See page ___. Fleischman, Sid - Whipping Boy- Greenwillow, 1986 See page ___.

  • Twain, Mark - Huckleberry Finn Tom Sawyer (Many Editions)

  • Other Books by Elaine Konigsburg About the BíNai Bagels - Atheneum, 1969 Altogether, One at a Time - Macmillan, 1975 The Dragon in the Ghetto Caper - Dell, 1985 Fatherís Arcane Daughter - Macmillan, 1976 George - Macmillan, 1970 Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinlay and Me, Elizabeth - Macmillan, 1967 Journey to an Eight Hundred Number - Atheneum, 1982 A Proud Taste for Scarlet & Miniver - Dell, 1985 The Second Mrs. Giaconda - Macmillan, 1978 Throwing Shadows - Macmillan, 1988 Up From Jericho - Atheneum, 1986
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