Hi readers. I don’t know whether I’ve ever mentioned on this blog that I’m a big admirer of a lot of young adult fiction writers. Mainly Newbery Award folk because I wouldn’t take a chance on anything else that didn’t come highly recommended. So, when I found From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, by EL Konigsberg in a 10 cent basket at the dogpound thrift store in Kerrville, I snagged it. Same as I’d have done with any Newbery.
I’m glad I did. Fact is, while I haven’t encountered many books with that award I considered unworthy of the time spent reading them, occasionally I have. But this one’s from back when writers were writers and readers were glad they were.
The basic plot’s just a brother and sister who decide to run away from home. But beyond that summary it becomes a reading experience, as opposed to the alternatives too frequently provided in best selling books.
The kids each have talents, each balancing the weaknesses of the other, each recognizing that fact, and the entire plot and characterization orbits it, relies on it. The brother’s the financial side of things. The sister’s a planner.
So she plans where two youngers could probably really have gotten by with hiding in 1967 for a couple of weeks without being discovered, without getting bored. And the brother provides the funds needed to get there with his winnings from cheating at cards on the school bus.
What’s not to like? Hell, nothing’s not to like. It’s a fast read, so it leaves the reader with plenty of time to read it twice, which he’ll want to do if he’s an admirer of good, serious wordsmithing manifested in plots, characters and fast moving events.
They hide in the Metropolitan Museum, evade guards, study a sculpting by a master, discovering secrets about it, and bathe in the fountain at night fishing for coins.
Great read if you aren’t a snob who only reads really good Stevie Ray King, Norbert Robbers and Louis L’Amour.