Twelve-year old Claudia Kincaid doesn’t feel appreciated so she decides to run away from home to someplace special. She takes her nine-year old brother Jamie along on her adventure. Then it becomes their adventure when Jamie contributes his savings.
They take a train to New York City and for a week they live at Metropolitan Museum of Art, hiding from the guards and employees, sleeping in a bed in one of the displays, bathing in a fountain in the Museum cafeteria and finding some extra spending money in the fountain. They eat at the museum cafeteria as well as a nearby automat.
The adventure changes when Claudia sees a small statue of an Angel that might have been carved by Michelangelo. They are caught up in the mystery of the statue that the museum purchased at auction for only $225. If it was carved by Michelangelo, it is worth millions, if not, then it is just a pretty statue. Claudia decides to find out.
Eventually she travels to Farmington, Connecticut to see the statue’s previous owner, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Will Claudia and Jamie have enough money left to get back home? Will Mrs. Frankweilerbe willing to help? Does their family really miss them? Perhaps most importantly will Jamie and Claudia learn anything of value about the statue, about their family, about life, about themselves?
I know this is a work of fiction, but why do I feel like the story really happened? Why do I want to Google ‘Angel’ by Michelangelo?’ If I lived in New York I would want to tour New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, look for that bed, eat in the cafeteria. I’d want to walk from the train station to the Museum, have lunch at the automat, walk from the museum to the Post Office, then take the train up to Farmington. I know the fountain in the Museum cafeteria is gone, the last Horn and Hadart automat closed more than twenty years ago, and Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’s home never existed. However, I’d like to ‘tour’ the story. It seems like it would be so much fun.
I tried to run away from home once. Mine was a spur of the moment decision, not something as well planned as Claudia’s trip. Her mother didn’t know anything about it. My mother handed my lunch bag with an egg salad sandwich, an apple and a cookie. Claudia was gone more than a week. I was home in time for dinner (having eaten the sandwich, cookie and apple). In the end Jamie and Claudia learned that they are special and important, but it’s still nice to have a secret to hold.
From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a wonderful story from the late E.L. Konigsburg