So I just read that E.L. Konigsburg, author of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, died. I can’t let this opportunity pass to write a short thank-you to her for that charming book, which I enjoyed so much as a young reader and which I have enjoyed just as much reading with my own young ones.
In a day when it’s easy for anyone to publish, and books for young readers are particularly hot items, we’re surrounded by thousands and thousands of choices for reading. I love to read the great new books that are coming out and contributing to the best of all genres, but there are some classics that still hold a special place in my heart, and Mixed-Up Files is definitely one of those. It’s a clever premise, one that any child who’s had those moments of wanting to run away can relate to, but which makes the destination very cool: two kids pack up and escape to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they manage to live secretly for a short time. Even now, it gives me little butterflies of excitement to think about the notion of being able to live in that awesome museum!
Then there’s the element of mystery added in to the story: is a statue the museum’s acquired for a bargain price actually the work of Michelangelo? And then there’s the interesting character Mrs. Frankweiler, who knows more than she lets on. All in all, the book is so fun to read, particularly because it’s so good at letting the reader step into the shoes of the characters and step off on a flight of fancy. It’s just the right setting for letting the imagination run wild. And personally, I’ve always loved museums, especially art museums, and my daughters love them too, so reading this story together doubled the pleasure.
Thank you, Ms. Konigsburg, for creating this story. I expect I’ll enjoy reading it to my grandkids one day too. And that is what makes a classic.