From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: This novel won the Newbury Award in 1968.
I loved it as a child and have always wondered about this book since. When trying to find it, though, I kept getting the name “mixed up” and wrong. When a book, such as “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” is being considered the awarding committee looks at the interpretation of the theme , presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization, development of plot, characters, setting, and style. Illustration and overall design of the book should only be considered if it detracts from the book. The award is for a children audience, yet will be considered literature and should be enjoyed as literature in and of itself, not needing other forms of media to gain popularity.
The significance of the point of view of this story is that it is the voice of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler herself. She is a wise woman, who met Claudia and Jamie, heard their story and captured the real lesson of it all. She seems like a wise, old woman full of virtue and life lessons. She challenged the kids at the end to search for something deeper. Why did Claudia really run away? She helped Claudia realize her purpose; Claudia wants to have a secret, she wants purpose and to be important. She wanted to be different from her experience. It took Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to help her see it. If this story was portrayed by the perspective of Claudia the story would not be the same. It would lack the wisdom and the moral of the story wouldn’t be fulfilled, because Claudia was a young girl in search of something bigger than herself.
I thought, overall, the story was fun and full of adventure. I read the whole thing in one sitting (I know, not hard; it is a children’s novel) and I thought it was suspenseful and kept me wanting to know what happened next to this brother and sister family team. One example of suspense is on page 1773. Jamie was hiding in the bathroom at the end of the day, waiting for the museum to close and the last guard to come in and check the bathroom. This night on page 1773, the guard didn’t come at the usual time and “the lights stayed on, stayed on.” Jamie didn’t know what to do and couldn’t relax until the guard came! He did end up coming, but for a moment I wondered if Jamie would get caught or not.
Near the bottom of page 1764 was a foreshadow. It says that Claudia could “sense danger,” and then described the photographer of the New York Times taking pictures. Claudia wished her brother would be more inconspicuous. However, it seemed Claudia didn’t think and plan what to do when her parents report that they are missing and have their pictures in the paper. Claudia looked past this, but it led me to think they would be in the paper later in the story.
This story would be good for theater activities with children probably because it is full of so many different scenes and different emotions.
You have received the task of developing a book discussion for a group of children about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. What age group would you gear this discussion towards? How would you structure the discussion? What kinds of questions? What sections of the book would you focus on? Most importantly, how would you approach using this text with young readers?
My book discussion for “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” is geared toward the age group of nine years old to twelve year olds. The discussion theme will be geared towards questions that get the kids thinking about the moral of the story, the point of it, and how this story and these characters relate to them. I would have the discussion with all the kids involved at the same time in a circle, and make sure each one talks and shares at least once.
At one point, Claudia forgot why she had even run away to begin with. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to run away from home? Instead of running away, what are the issues you could try to deal with and how would you deal with them? Does running away from home really solve any problems?
Claudia and Jamie were on a wild adventure. What kinds of adventures have you been on?
Claudia and Jamie talk about homesickness. Have you ever been homesick? How would you define it?
Claudia says you should learn something new every day. Mrs. Frankweiler says that some days you should learn a lot, but on others you should let “what is already in you to swell up inside you until it touches everything.” Which idea do you agree with and why?
Why isn’t a secret much fun if no one knows you have it? Does a secret lose it’s value when you tell it?
Have you ever broken a promise you had with someone and told their secret? How did it make you feel? Guilty? Sad?
Claudia wanted to feel valued and important; she wanted to have a secret to fulfill this. What makes you feel valued and important?
I focused on different parts of the texts, mainly parts where the kids could go deeper and talk about deeper issues.