A Reading Experience

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My role as stay at home aunt has taken on many new facets in recent weeks. With schools moving to distance learning, and my two local nieces spending several days a week with me, my time is spent re-visiting some of my favorite books from childhood.

We just read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler together. I still like this story, and my older niece liked it so much, she put it in her bag and took it home. This was my favorite book when I was in third grade, and now my third grader niece has taken it in as her own; how can I not be thrilled!

Claudia and Jamie’s adventure in 1960s New York was fun. These two young people may be a bit more mature than their present-day equivalents, but they were still kids making it work in a big city. These two kids were able to budget money, maneuver through the public transportation systems of a large city, and find inexpensive places to eat and do their laundry. All while hiding out undetected in a museum.

It was fun to read through the different parts of the museum. E and I had to pull out a book to figure out who Marie Antoinette was and why she was important (and why her bed would have been so comfortable). We did not need to look up Michelangelo thanks in part to a Magic Tree House installation. And she chose to do her ancient civilization project on Egypt in part because of our time with the mummies in the museum.

The framework of this story, older lady sharing the details with her lawyer, made it a good choice for reading out loud. As an adult, my voice did not distract from the story and reading with a 9-year-old made it so we could each have distinct parts in the story.

This story encompassed mystery, adventure, coming of age, and humor. It made for good reading for our experiment in home-schooling. The themes of independence, curiosity and perseverance were affirming and fun to talk about.

The language in this book was mature (not crass), but most of the vocabulary words were easily discovered using context clues. This book is set in the 1960s, so there were a few obsolete or out of favor activities; but for the most part, this book was easily accessible even to a 21st century child.

I loved this book as a child, and it warmed my heart to see the next generation embrace this story and love it like I did.

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