Bibliographic Information: Konigsburg, E. L. (1967). From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Plot Description: When Claudia decides to run away, she plans very carefully and enlists her younger brother Jamie as her partner in crime because he can be counted on to keep quiet and he is rich from saving up his allowance and winnings from playing cards on the bus to school. Claudia and Jamie use their cunning (and a train pass found in the garbage) to get to New York City, where they go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Once there, they stash their belongings behind tapestries and in a sarcophagus and hide in the bathroom stalls at closing time. They find a 16th century bed to sleep in and make themselves at home. During the day they tag along with school groups to learn something about everything. When an Angel statue comes to the museum the two children decide to try to solve the mystery of who sculpted the beautiful work and along the way meet Mrs. Frankweiler, the angel’s previous owner.
Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 700L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 4.7
Qualitative Reading Analysis: The story begins with a letter from Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Then commences a third person account of Claudia and Jamie’s exploits. Throughout the story are little asides from the narrator (Mrs. F.) to her lawyer, Saxonberg, who is the recipient of the letter and story. Most students will not have trouble understanding the shifts from the main story to the side notes from the author as she mentions Saxonberg’s name in them or uses parentheses to show it is an aside to the story. The novel has two storylines, that of Jamie and Claudia and also Mrs. F’s, which intersect in more than one way. A few illustrations are used at various points to enhance the text, but they are not necessary for understanding. The conventionality is largely explicit and easy to understand, with some occasions for more complex meaning. Conventional, conversational language is used. Experiences of hiding out in a museum will not be common to readers, but themes of running away and being independent will be familiar.
Content Area: Reading, Literature, Mathematics
Content Area Standard:
Mathematics: Expressions & Equations: Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations. CCSS.Math.Content.7.EE.B.3 Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. For example: If a woman making $25 an hour gets a 10% raise, she will make an additional 1/10 of her salary an hour, or $2.50, for a new salary of $27.50. If you want to place a towel bar 9 3/4 inches long in the center of a door that is 27 1/2 inches wide, you will need to place the bar about 9 inches from each edge; this estimate can be used as a check on the exact computation.
English Language Arts Standards for Speaking & Listening: Comprehension and Collaboration: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
Curriculum Suggestions: Have a class discussion about wants versus needs. Talk about spending and have students make a budget, like Claudia and Jamie. Have students take a virtual tour of the Metropolitan museum of Art and write about their favorite pieces, then discuss and share with the class. Have the class read and discuss the article from Met Kids about how the author came to write Claudia and Jamie’s story at the Met.
Supporting Digital Content:
Awards: Newbery Medal; NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts; SLJ Best Book; ALA Notable/Best Books
Character names/descriptions: Claudia the mastermind behind running away to the museum, her younger brother Jamie who is in charge of finances for the two, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler who is the narrator and former owner of the Angel statue.
Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed this adventure in the city, particularly because I have always been fascinated by museums and their priceless treasures. The two children reminded me of squabbles with my own younger brother as a child.
High interest annotation: When Claudia and Jamie ran away and took up residence in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they never imagined they would become mixed up with the mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.