CCLE - From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (1967)
But the book has a special magic to it. I can relate to a little girl who wants so desperately for her life to change, for her to be different, that she plans the perfect runaway scheme, taking with her only a musical instrument case full of clothes and her little brother who also happens to be the moneybags in the family. I remember a few times where I was so hungry to be understood and appreciated that I tried running away from home too. Although whereas I only made it a few blocks from home, Claudia and Jamie make it all the way into New York City where they proceed to make the Metropolitan Museum their home for a week. Remember, this book was written in 1967, long before they had things like security video cameras.
And that's why I love it. This is a book of glorious imaginings and possibilities, long before the incredible wave of technology wiped a lot of magic out of our lives. Claudia makes sense to me. She helps out so much at home, being the oldest child, but she feels her family doesn't appreciate her and doesn't understand her. She yearns to be special, to be different, to do something glorious with her life, to be the heroine of her own story.
And this book helps her along that path, giving her a secret to keep, a secret about the new Angel statue at the museum that may or may not have been carved by Michelangelo, but she and Jamie discover the truth by tracking down the prior owner, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
My favorite moment in the whole book is near the end. Claudia spends a great deal of time in this story wanting to learn everything about everything, to always be learning new things, ever single day. But Mrs. Frankweiler has news for her.
She says, "I don't agree with that. I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate factors, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow."
That's a truly glorious sentiment, and that's why I love to take time to just bask in the things I already know, usually the things related to Christ. It's a beautiful feeling, a moment of certain clarity in the hubbub of life's craziness.
Out of all the books I've read for this challenge, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is the one I hope every child has a chance to read. It's encouraging beyond description.
And this is my farewell to Amanda's Classic Children's Literature Event 2017! I can't believe I managed to read 4 books this time around!