Genre: middle-grade fiction
Length: 162 pages
Setting: mostly the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, 1960s
Interest: It was recommended as a good read aloud, and it’s a Newbery Award winner.
Summary: Twelve-year old Claudia has decided to run away and take her nine-year old brother with her (since he’s got more money than she does). Claudia decides the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be the perfect place to stay. She develops a plan to sneak by the guards and learn about everything in the Museum. The learning part of the plan is derailed when the Museum acquires a new statue, Angel, that captivates Claudia’s attention. She wants to figure out if Michelangelo really sculpted Angel. Actually, she wants to feel different and only Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the previous owner of Angel, understands. Mrs. Frankweiler helps Claudia feel different by giving her the secret of Angel’s creation and sends the kids home.
Final thoughts: A very enjoyable book. I loved the details of living in the museum – how they hid at the opening and closing times, where they ate and bathed, how they snuck into school groups to learn about the museum. Claudia didn’t want to waste her time in the museum, but she couldn’t make the decision to go back home because nothing had really changed. Mrs. Frankweiler was able to identify Claudia’s problem and provided her with the solution – the secret to Angel’s provenance. The adventure of living in the museum hooked us as readers and then we got a bit of insight into human nature to end the story.
Title comes from: The story was related by Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler to her lawyer (and there were occasional asides within the story of her sniping at the lawyer). She kept a very mixed-up file system of all her important papers and memories that the children had to search through in order to show they deserved learning the secret.
Awards won: Newbery Award in 1968
Reading challenges fulfilled: an F in my title Reading the Alphabet Challenge, #21 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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