Tuesday, October 13, 2009

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

Yesterday I walked down the memory lane of my childhood via a popular song from my middle-school years. Today it's a book.

This is a nice cover of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but it's not THE cover, if you know what I mean.** The paperback that I grabbed off Amanda's shelf for the Children's Classics "Re-read a childhood favorite" challenge came from a library book sale if I recall, and it has a black cover and a 1995 copywright. I can't remember from which version I read growing up, but I do know that this is a book that I read over and over.

There are memories from this plot that are imprinted in my mind: the clothes in the music cases, bathing in the fountain, and getting meals from the automat (what exactly was an automat?), the teamwork of former sibling rivals Claudia and Jamie.

I loved the semi-realistic adventure tale that this novel allowed me to enter. It seems realistic enough, but it was still thrilling in the illicit nature of it all.

I had already decided on our occasional weekend trips to the donut store that if I ran away, I would live on donuts. I think that a donut cost about 30 cents, and two donuts were quite filling. It wouldn't take much to feed me at only 60 cents a meal.

So this month I re-visited this book from my childhood. It held up nicely. It was still a fun adventure twenty-(ahem) years later. And what's more, being a Connecticut citizen now as Jamie and Claudia are, I had a new layer to appreciate as they discussed riding the Metro North commuter train. I still don't really know what an automat is, but that could be because I was not 11-years-old in 1967 in NYC as Claudia is.

I think that I understood the files a bit more, and the fact that the whole thing is a report to "Saxonberg," which I could have missed before. I also enjoyed the grammatical banter that Jamie and Claudia shared, which I may not have appreciated in my youth (although by high school, I was quite the queen of diagramming sentences. Forget Geometry proofs -- I've tried to forget Geometry proofs -- but dissecting and assigning the parts of speech to those little lines, now that was fun).

At any rate, it's a great book that not only held up with me, but is one that Amanda has already read several times herself.

**I hope that you will click over to the Children's Classics post and take a walk down memory lane as you click through some of the links to read people's reviews of their own childhood favorites. But I've also included a review over there of Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading. It features this very book as well as so many others, and it too has been a lot of fun to read. There are also pictures of the original covers of these much-loved books.


anner1010 said...

Elizabeth bought this book at the school book fair last week! We are reading it aloud and loving it. This version has an afterwords that I found as entertaining as the book.

Amy said...

Ah, now this IS one I remember! I LOVED this book! Thanks for the walk down memory lane1

stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

I sort-of remember this one, but not really! I'll have to revisit this one, too. :) Thanks for the reminder.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I have NEVER read this book...but I really want to!

Carrie said...

I just read this one recently and really loved it. Having never been to NYC I'm sure there are tons of things that I'm missing in the reading of it, but it WAS very enjoyable. (Talk about your Free-Range Kids....?)

And on a totally different note - I see that you are reading Safely Home now. =D That's a favorite so I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it!

glutenfree4goofs said...

Wow, I've read A LOT of books and somehow I've missed this one! No time like the present to catch up eh? :) Thanks for the review.

Suko said...

I loved this book as a child!

One of my favorite books when I was growing up was Amy Moves In by Marilyn Sachs. My daughter enjoyed it recently (but not as much as I did as a child or when I reread it as an adult).

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

I LOVED this book as a child. To this day, when I go into a public restroom in a store, I think of standing up on the toilets and hiding out until past closing time (of course, I wouldn't do it because now that I am old, I think of all those germs)!

morninglight mama said...

Holy cow, how many times did I read this as a kid?? JAM and I read it together last year I think it was, and I loved it all over again!!

And yes, I too ADORED the grammatical banter-- although JAM had enough of it quite quickly. :)

Cindy said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! re-read it myself a few years ago after going to the Met with a friend. Somehow it brought it more to life than before!

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

I read this book over and over as a kid -- loved it! But haven't read it since. Maybe I'll have to revisit it. Though, like you, so much of it is already imprinted on my mind.