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

published 1967





The information they wanted was on the first page of the second section the [New York] Times. The headline said: RECORD CROWD VIEWS MUSEUM “BARGAIN”…

If Claudia’s interest had been a little broader… she might have noticed [in the paper] a small article that would have interested her.

The dateline was Greenwich, Connecticut and it stated that two children of Mr and Mrs STeven C Kincaid, Sr had been missing since Wednesday. The article didn’t mention any clues like Claudia’s letter. It said that the children were last seen wearing nylon quilted ski jackets. Small help. Fourteen out of fifteen kids in the USA wear those. It went on to describe Claudia as brunette and pretty and Jamie as brunette and brown eyed. Police in the neighbouring towns of Darien and Stamford in Connecticut and Port Chester, New York, had been alerted…

They had been gone from home for three days now… No question about it; their laundry was becoming a problem. They had to get to a Laundromat.

 


observations: If you were visiting New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art – repository of the world’s treasures – what would you want to see first?

Any half-way well-read American child would surely want to head off to Furniture immediately, to see the very grand State bed where Claudia and Jamie Kincaid sleep when they run away to the Museum (Jamie has thought they might be out in the woods, but Claudia thinks the Museum will be much nicer.) EL Konigsburg, who wrote this classic children’s book in 1967, died last week, leaving a solid body of lasting work, cherished by the children lucky enough to read her. Surely anyone would be enchanted and fascinated by the description of how exactly the two children live in the Museum for so long, managing on limited resources, till the elaborate framework of the story brings them home again.

EL Konigsburg said in an interview

I believe that the problems that children face... are the same basic problems I had when I was that age.. the kids I write about are asking for the same things I wanted. They want two contradictory things. They want to be the same as everyone else, and they want to be different from everyone else.

Which seems quite remarkably perceptive.

Links on the blog: EL Konigsburg liked A Little Princess. Females who take off for New York are usually older, and have other aims than Claudia’s.

One picture is of children playing in a museum, the other is of children for whom the Met will always be Claudia and Jamie’s playground.






Comments

  1. Moira - Oh, I am sad to hear of Konigsburg's death. That story really does have a neat little mystery in it and I like the way the young people are portrayed. It's authentic. A piece of a lot of people's childhoods...

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