A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the premise of living inside a museum is enthralling, and E. L. Konigsburg provides every detail a kid could want. Two runaway children demonstrate ingenuity in taking care of themselves in this superbly written novel. Huge dollops of art history seem entertaining when the characters experience it firsthand. The author's scratchy drawings, never terribly attractive, look dated and muddy.
What's the story?
Claudia Kinkaid feels unappreciated by her parents and bored with her orderly, straight-A existence. She is nearly twelve when she decides to run away from her home in suburban Connecticut. Being practical, she chooses a comfortable destination--New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art--and a thrifty traveling companion, her nine-year-old brother Jamie.
After careful planning, Claudia and Jamie arrive at the museum, hiding from the guards in the rest rooms, sleeping on priceless beds, and bathing in the fountain. But when a statue of an angel, rumored to be a possible Michelangelo, is given to the museum, Claudia decides they must solve the mystery. Their search leads them to the statue's original owner, eccentric Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who narrates the story in a peppery letter to her lawyer. Mrs. Frankweiler both solves the mystery and helps Claudia understand why the secret of the statue is so important to her.[
Is it any good?
Though it may read like a fantasy today, this perfect, kid-size adventure is pure delight. Author E.L. Konigsburg's attention to detail makes this adventure real and satisfying, and her craft makes the story timeless. She observes the characters as closely as their surroundings. Claudia's need to show off and Jamie's tendency to cheat at cards are as much an endearing part of them as their loyalty, humor, and ingenuity.
The quest for the sculptor's identity is bound inextricably with Claudia's own search for self. The mystery is complicated, but the irascible voice of Mrs. Frankweiler allows the author to clarify without ever seeming to lecture. An unusual choice for a children's-book narrator, 82-year-old Mrs. Frankweiler makes a precise and witty storyteller. She even saves one delicious secret for the very end.