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

Infobox Book |
name = From the Mixed-Up Files of
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = E. L. Konigsburg
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Children's novel
publisher = Atheneum Press
release_date = 1967
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback), Audio book
pages = 162 pages
isbn = ISBN 0-689-71181-6
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" is a novel by E. L. Konigsburg that won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1968. The book is a work of fiction.

Plot summary

The story revolves around Claudia Kincaid, a precocious 12-year old girl who feels underappreciated by her parents. She decides to run away from home just long enough to show her family what they would be missing without her. Unfortunately, she doesn't enjoy hardship or discomfort, which rules out the traditional 'running away'. To solve this problem, Claudia decides to stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She persuades her younger brother Jamie to accompany her: he's quiet, but most importantly, he has a secret stash of cash, as well as a transistor radio he's accumulated by cheating at card games with his best friend, Bruce Lansing.

Much of the early part of the novel details how Claudia and Jamie settle in at the museum: blending in with school groups on field trips during the day to learn more about the museum's exhibits, hiding in the bathroom at closing time, and emerging after the staff has gone. At night they bathe in the fountain and sleep on antique beds. During their stay, they become fascinated with the newest exhibit: a beautiful statue of an angel, suspected to have been crafted by Michelangelo. They research the statue, and discover that it was sold to the museum by a Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who lives in Farmington, Connecticut. They spend the last of their dwindling money to travel to Mrs. Frankweiler's house, where they discover the angel's secret, hidden in the voluminous and erratically organized files in Mrs. Frankweiler's office. There they find out that Michelangelo made the angel. (Afterwards, she sends them home in her Rolls-Royce to their worried parents and siblings.)

Main Characters

*Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a rich widow with a taste for art. She lives in a mansion in Farmington, CT, and has a sharp wit but a kind heart. She is secretive about her work, which she keeps memorabilia of in her many filing cabinets. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is also very mysterious. When Jamie and Claudia met her, they were surprised to find she knew so much about them. The entire book is a letter to her lawyer, Saxonberg.
*Claudia Kincaid - A dream she’s always had is to run away and teach her parents to appreciate her more. She is sick of being a perfect straight A student, who is ignored. So she plans an escape, choosing her rich, card-playing brother, Jamie, to come with her. Being herself means correcting people’s grammar and dreaming of adventure, which unfortunately annoys a lot of people. At the beginning of the book she is bossy and pushy, because Jamie is controlling her escape, and she feels that since she planned this adventure she feels like she should take charge. Through the book she learns how to cooperate with Jamie and learns that what she needs the most is something Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler can give her. Learning of an enchanting statue in the Metropolitan Museum of Art leads her into a mystery she can’t pull out of.
*Jamie Kincaid - Jamie Kincaid is a lively 9- year old younger brother to Claudia Kincaid; he also tends to cheat at a card game of “War” for money. Since he’s a Penny Pincher, he doesn’t like to spend money. Although his sister Claudia likes to spend money, Jamie is very wise and only buys things that they need. Jamie didn’t want to ride the cab to the Metropolitan Museum of Art because it would cost too much, and Jamie didn’t want to waste money on the first day of running away. Jamie likes complications, like the time when they made a list instead of throwing it away Jamie tried to eat it. When it comes to keeping secrets, Jamie fails to keep his mouth shut.

In other media

This novel was adapted into a movie in 1973, starring Ingrid Bergman in the title role. It later became a made-for-TV film in 1995, starring Lauren Bacall in the title role.This book was also recorded as a cassette book and CD book in 1995 by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House inc.

In the television series "The Simpsons", the plot was mimicked in the episodes "Smart and Smarter," in which Lisa hides in a local science museum in embarrassment at discovering her baby sister is smarter than she, and the episode "Last Tap Dance in Springfield" features Bart and Milhouse hiding out in the shopping mall for one week while ostensibly on a camping trip. The film "The Royal Tenenbaums" includes a scene in which characters Margot and Richie hide in a museum; in the film's DVD commentary, Wes Anderson states that this was an homage to the novel. There is also a reference to the book in "The Office (US TV series)", when Jim Halpert mentions it to a co-worker Kevin's daughter, Abby, and asks her where she'd rather live: the Met, or the aquarium.

Rapper MC Paul Barman mentions the book in a song.

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