Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Audio

From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Audio

E.L. Konigsburg
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Jill Clayburgh
Simon & Schuster Audio, 2009   ISBN: 978-0743597159

Claudia Kincaid likes to plan things, so when she decides to run away from home she determines that she is not going to run away from home in the traditional sense. Instead, she is going to run to somewhere, and the somewhere that she chooses for her adventure is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She also decides that she does not want to have this adventure alone, so she chooses to take her brother Jamie with her. She knows that Jamie “could be counted on to be quiet, and now and then he was good for a laugh.” Jamie also has an additional merit; he is “rich.”

So, after carefully discussing and planning their getaway, the two children get onto a train and make their way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They figure out how to avoid being seen by the guards, they plan their meals, and they even find a very lavish bed to sleep in.

Claudia is determined that they should learn something while they are living in the museum, so the children visit the exhibits and attach themselves to school groups. Then they see the angel statue, and when Claudia sees it, she thinks that it is “the most beautiful, most graceful statue she had ever seen.” Curious to find out why flocks of people are coming to see the statue, the children learn that the statue may have been made by Michelangelo, though no one seems to be sure. The statue is a mystery, and Claudia and Jamie cannot resist trying to find out if Angel really was made by Michelangelo. Somehow, if they can find the answer, their running away adventure will really mean something.

This remarkable award winning title will resonate with listeners of all ages. Anyone who has tried to find something in their lives that makes them feel “different,” will appreciate what Claudia is trying to do. With great skill, E. L. Konigsburg keeps listeners guessing, giving us hints throughout the book of things to come. It is only at the very end of the story that that we find out what Mrs. Bail E. Frankweiler is really up to.

Jill Clayburgh’s narrative perfectly captures the personalities of Mrs. Frankweiler, Claudia, and Jamie. The voices she has created add depth to the characters, and listeners will find it hard to stop listening, once they have started.