Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Classic Children's Novel Has Me Asking, "Am I Missing Something?"

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Feeling underappreciated by her family and tired of "the monotony of everything" (6), 12-year-old Claudia Kincaid decides to run away from her Greenwich home.  Knowing she'll need money for food, bus fare, and the like, Claudia reluctantly invites her miserly little brother, Jamie, along.  The two head for what seems like the perfect hideaway—The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Hiding out in the museum is a little scary, but it's also fun and exciting.  At least until hunger, boredom, and homesickness sets in.

When Claudia and Jamie come across a statue purportedly created by Michelangelo and sold to the museum for a mere $225, the kids know they've uncovered an intriguing—and diverting—mystery.  Their hunt for answers leads them to Mrs. Frankweiler, mysterious 82-year-old widow who collects secrets.  As the kids make some amazing discoveries about the statue, they'll learn a few important things about themselves as well.

I read voraciously as a kid (some things never change!), so I'm sure I picked up From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg at some point in my childhood.  Since I couldn't really remember the story, though, I decided to revisit the 1968 Newbery Award winner as an adult.  Although the idea of living in a famous museum full of innumerable mysteries definitely fuels my imagination, I found the book underwhelming overall.  It's a quick, fun read that actually has a surprisingly modern vibe to it.  I like that, but I didn't feel any real connection to the characters or story.  On the whole, then, I found the book entertaining enough, just not super memorable or special.  So many readers adore this classic children's book.  I have to ask—am I missing something? 

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing's coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

5 comments:

  1. I haven't even heard of this book, how is that possible? Too bad it fell flat as an adult.

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  2. I know I liked it back then, but it has been a long time...

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  3. I loved it as a child and when I read it to my 7 yo recently I still liked it! Although not as much. I adventure of it and exploring the museum oh and I know as a kid I appreciated that there was "proof" that running away could work! Not that I ever did though nor do I condone such behavior!

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  4. My daughter and I both loved this book, and I was obsessed with the movie when I was younger. I always fear revisited an old favorite for this very reason. My years and experience could change how I view the book, and I like to leave my good memories in place.

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  5. A couple of years ago I started a personal, no time limit, Newbery challenge for myself after I realized how few of them I had read. I am surprised by how many are boring, or too long. It seems like the only criteria is the message the story imparts, not whether it is interesting enough for the kids to finish reading it. Ha ha. I haven't read this one yet, but I have the ebook. Maybe I'll read it next.

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