I turned into a teary-eyed sap as I read the New York Times obituary of Newbery Award-winning author E.L. Konigsburg, who died last Friday. Her classic young adult novel, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is one of my all-time favorites. It’s the reason I swore from the age of 10 that I would move to New York. (I made good on that promise.) It’s the reason I am a certifiable word nerd. I still treasure my childhood copy of the book with my name handwritten on a purple sticker bookplate.
A Manhattan-based version of the greatest youth fantasy (read: a life devoid of parental supervision), From the Mixed Up Files follows Claudia Kincaid and her younger brother Jamie as they flee the suburban doldrums and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is adventure. There is mystery. There are grammar references and vocabulary lessons. It’s loaded with poignant wisdom.
Twelve-year-old Claudia is the kind of character who inspires all the best kinds of troublemaking. Here are a few important lessons I learned from this bold, enterprising runaway. Keep reading »