From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsberg (1968)

A Sweet Spot selection. 

Financial Literacy resources included.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a Newbery Award winner that teachers and parents (and even grandparents!) may remember from their childhoods.

Claudia and Jamie Kincaid run away from their safe suburban Connecticut home and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Can they remain undiscovered? How will they manage to live on their own? Where in the Museum will they sleep? What happens when they discover a mystery involving a visiting statue that just might be by Michelangelo? These are the elements that have charmed and fascinated readers for over 50 years now.

Claudia and Jamie manage to survive using Jamie’s poker winnings. He’s not only a card shark, he’s also prudent with their money, which means From the Mixed-Up Files provides a unique opportunity for learning about financial literacy. Claudia wants a nice lunch but Jamie wants to be frugal. He finds an unexpected and ingenious new source of income while bathing in the pool at the base of a fountain in the museum.

When [Jamie] got into the pool, he found bumps on the bottom; smooth bumps. When he reached down to feel one, he found that it moved! He could even pick it up. He felt its cool roundness and splashed his way over to Claudia. “Income, Claudia, income!” he whispered.

The novel amps up the action when Claudia and Jamie finally meet the mysterious Mrs. Frankweiler. Then, the classic runaway tale turns into a tale of intrigue and detective work to uncover the provenance of a mysterious statue of an angel. But the siblings learn more than an art history lesson from Mrs. Frankweiler. She also dispenses wisdom, such as her response to Claudia’s comment that “you should want to learn one new thing every day.”

“No,” I answered, “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 facts, 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.”

So come along for the original adventure in a museum and discover why this story continues to find new generations of readers.

Read to Them’s resources for this novel include a set of financial literacy materials to enhance the joy of discovery and learning.

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