Isn’t it fun to revisit some childhood favorites from time to time? I can’t even tell you how many times I checked this book out of my school library and curled up to read this at home. I honestly believe this is where my love for museums began. I mean, I had completely forgotten about the statue – which is kind of a huge part of the story. I had only fondly remembered the museum.
If you’re not familiar with the story (and you really should be – otherwise take a couple of hours and get familiar)… Claudia and James Kincaid have run away from home. They have gone to hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They live there for about a week, all the while attempting to solve the mystery of the new Angel statue newly arrived at the museum.
So what did I like about it then? As a child, growing up in the Central New York suburbs and far from any place like this museum, this was a story of pure escapism. My grandparents and other family lived near NYC, so I had visited and been completely in awe of its magnificence… but sneaking into one of those museums and living there? Well, that’s just taking it to another level.
What do I like about it now? Well, aside from the same… I’d still very much love to live in a museum for a week (or longer); I like how subtly the author shows Claudia coming into her own. The entire reason she convinces her brother to run away with her is because she feel underappreciated at home and is mad at her parents about it. The whole thing is petulant and immature. By the end though, she has gained something personal – a secret – and she learns how she can feel different and important without anyone else ever knowing. She learns that it comes from within. That is quite a concept, and it isn’t anything I was ready to fully grasp when reading this as a child.
So while I’m disappointed that my older son wouldn’t give this a chance (too many other books calling to him), I’m holding onto hope that my younger son will read it when he is ready.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg
Atheneum, 2013. First published 1967.