Even though Claudia knew that New York City was not far away, certainly not far enough to go considering the size and number of the injustices done to her, she knew it was a good place to get lost (p 7).
For our next Mock Newbery Kidlit meeting, our group is reading Wonderstruck by Brain Selznick. It makes sense then, to read From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. I had never before read this 1968 Newbery winner. I might never have read it if not for my Newbery club and Selznick’s tribute. I must say, the cover did nothing for me.
The novel is so perfectly framed. I recall our KidLit discussion of Shoot the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell; the line between Jamie as adult narrator and Jamie the child were blurred. Mixed-up Files is laid out such that we have the childlike story with childlike behavior with the adult interpretation and witticism without any confusion as to whom is thinking what. One of my favorite scenes involves Jamie finding an uneaten candy bar.
“You better not touch it,” Claudia warned. “It’s probably poisoned or filled with marijuana, so you’ll eat it and become either dead or a dope addict.”
Jamie was irritated. “Couldn’t it just happend that someone dropped it?”
“I doubt that. Who would drop a whole candy bar and not know it? That’s like leaving a statue in a taxi. Someone put it there on purpose” (p 75-6).
Here, Claudia reminds me of myself. And Jamie, when he pretends death, my brother. I felt like I was on an adventure, remembering all the times I wished I could have run away. (I think many children from large families must feel like Claudia sometimes.) Just a lovely book full of truth and well- paced. Now, if someone would just update the art. Bleck!
Library copy (print) | Antheneum Book for Young Readers | 162 pages | Ages 7-14 | ISBN 978-0-689-85322-7 | $17.99