Hi, welcome to this week’s Newbery Pie. We’ll be discussing a well-loved Newbery Winner, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
We’ll start with Sara’s Review:
Reading things as an adult ruins a book sometimes. We tend to overanalyze things and want them to fit very neatly into specific boxes. Being a librarian can make these qualities even worse. Thanks to meticulous (read: nerdy) record keeping that I eventually transferred over to Goodreads, I know that I first read The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in 2004. I was twenty-six years old, I had one child (which is frankly baffling to even try to remember since now my third, and youngest child, will be eight in about a month) and I was in my first year as a school librarian. Twitter didn’t even exist and I had no inkling that I would eventually belong to the amazing community of educators, readers and authors from the Nerdy Book Club. I didn’t like the book and I scoffed at its beloved status in the Newbery canon. Despite the fact that it was written in 1967, I couldn’t get my head around the fact that two children could stay in the Metropolitan Museum of Art overnight.
I was more than prepared to have suspension of disbelief issues again this go round, and wasn’t looking forward to reading the book again. I even found research to make the reading a little easier. Mental floss has a neat article about the book: http://mentalfloss.com/article/60600/17-fun-facts-about-mixed-files-mrs-basil-e-frankweiler
Apparently, E.L. Konisburg did her research and I was wrong about the book being implausible. However, when I started reading the book, such details didn’t matter in the least because my connection with the characters was so strong. You see, I live with a Claudia. My 12, almost, 13-year old daughter, Carolyn, gets fed up with her siblings and her parents, and I’m sure she would love to run away at times. I have also taught over 1200+ 5th graders, which is more than enough to remember that I was kind of like Claudia myself once upon a time. There was a time in middle school when I wanted to go and spend my birthday money on books; my father would not drive me so I decided to walk to the store myself. I swore my sister, Amy to secrecy, and like a loyal sibling, she did not tell my parents where I had gone. I called the house and she told me not to come home! She did give in when they called the police, and my father found me sitting on a lawn chair in K-mart reading a book! Growing up, I haven’t lost all of my Claudia-like qualities. Friends may describe me as kind, but you will not be my friend/follower on social media for long before discovering that I am also very opinionated and outspoken, almost to a fault.
Also, if you like art, I highly recommend this book over I, Juan de Pareja. Unlike the latter, I did not fall asleep reading the Mixed Up Files even once! I give it 5 Newbery pies!
Benji’s Review: I’m really glad to see that Sara had a change of heart, because Mixed up Files is a really good book. I too, first read it as an adult, but I loved it. I still remember wondering as a kid if it would be possible to stay in the mall or Wal-mart overnight if I hid in a bathroom stall. I think every kid wants to run away at some point in their life, no matter how good they have it. Even if they never attempt it, it’s there in their daydreams, and that’s why I think this book has such high appeal to kids, even today. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to one of my students. I’m not sure why I gave it four pies on Goodreads back when I first read it, but I didn’t notice any flaws at all this time around, and without hesitation, I give it 5 Newbery Pies.