May 7, 2008

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

by E. L. Konigsburg
This is one of those books that has won awards and been raved about for years and years by teachers and librarians and parents all over the world. I read it when I was a kid, but I didn't remember much about the story so I decided to read it again. It's a good story, but I'm not sure it's quite as good as everyone has been telling me it is.

It's the story of two kids, Claudia and her younger brother Jamie, who run away from home and decide to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It's very, very dated, which I had a hard time getting past. Jamie is in charge of their money and keeps harping about how much everything costs when the amounts given are so low. 10 cents to take the bus, and crazy stuff like that.

I also had a hard time reading about how they adapted to living in the museum. They slept on a bed that was on display and stashed their bags in open vases and a sarcophagus. I kept cringing each time they touched something like that. My job as an archivist is to protect documents and items for the next generation. Reading about some kids using priceless artifacts for storage made it really hard to enjoy the adventure of living in the museum. I'm much more aware of the damage that can occur when things are stepped on, sat on, slept on and even just innocently touched. It all adds up and can lead to irreversible damage.

So, I guess if you aren't an archivist or a museum curator, this would be an innocent adventure story about a young girl trying to find her place in the world and her helpful brother who tags along, but I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone in my field.

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