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

Book review by
Cindy Kane, Common Sense Media
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Attention to detail makes adventure satisfying.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 27 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The children barely give a thought to their parents' feelings when they run away. They steal change from a fountain and lie to adults. Both Jamie and Mrs. Frankweiler cheat at cards.


The siblings take a bath together in the museum fountain, and there is a nonexplicit drawing of the scene.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byMonicaMom December 31, 2016

Great book; a few things to talk about with children

There are so many reviews everywhere about this amazing book, I won't bother to write another one.

I will add one thing that for some reason is not mentio... Continue reading
Adult Written byLindsey C. September 1, 2017
Great book. The two main characters are well-educated and model a love of learning. Uses a broad vocabulary which may be tricky for some. References "marij... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 20, 2013

Book Review for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

An adventure and mystery can be like exploring an unknown deep-trench cave or going to planet Mars. But what about E.L. Kongsberg’s mystery, From the Mixed-Up F... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 24, 2020

Seems boring, though once you get into it, it gets better

Great book with a good takeaway. It may seem boring but as you get into the book you like it better, find it hard to put down and learn a lot from it about the... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about escape. What is Claudia trying to escape? Have you ever wanted to escape from something? Did you try?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate