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


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

When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Claudia pick Jamie to run away with?
  2. How does Jamie get his money?
  3. Why does Claudia enjoy planning?
  4. Why does Mrs. Frankweiler say that flattery is an important machine?  How does Claudia use this on Jamie?
  5. How would you describe Claudia’s escape plans?
  6. Why does Mrs. Frankweiler identify with Claudia?
  7. Claudia sends in two coupons just as they leave home. What does that suggest about her future plans?
  8. “Often the search proves more profitable than the goal.” Why does Mrs. Frankweiler say this to her lawyer?
  9. How do you think Mr. and Mrs. Kincaid felt when Claudia and Jamie ran away?
  10. How does the author get your attention in the first paragraph?
  11. Who is telling the story? To whom is she telling it?
  12. How does the New York Times article connect Claudia and Jamie to Mrs. Frankweiler?
  13. Claudia thinks she is running away because of injustice. What’s your opinion about Claudia’s sense of injustice?
  14. Have you ever wanted to escape or run away from something you didn’t like? Do you think Claudia and Jamie were fair to their family when they ran away?
  15. How do you feel about the way Jamie wins in cards against Bruce? How do you think friends should treat one another?
  16. What section of the museum would you have chosen to study?
  17. How do experts determine the authenticity of an artwork?
  18. How do Claudia and Jamie get more money?
  19. What is the name Jamie uses for the post office box?  Why?
  20. Why don’t Claudia and Jamie ask one of the children in the museum to deliver their letter to the office?
  21. Why is the dust under a bed in the museum important to Claudia and Jamie?
  22. What do you think Claudia was running away from?
  23. Why does Claudia say they’ll take a “long, long bath” when they rent a post office box?
  24. How does the author remind readers that this story is being told by Mrs. Frankweiler?
  25. Claudia and Jamie talk about homesickness. Have you ever been homesick? How would you define it?
  26. Claudia says, “When you hug someone, you learn something else about them. An important something else.” What do you think she means?
  27. Why is the letter from the museum a disappointment?
  28. How does Claudia keep Jamie from going home?
  29. Why doesn’t Claudia want to tell Mrs. Frankweiler where they were hiding?
  30. Why are Mrs. Frankweiler’s files mixed up?
  31. Why does Jamie suggest that they go home after they get the museum’s letter? Why does Claudia want to stay?
  32. Why do Mrs. Frankweiler and the children get along so well?
  33. Mrs. Frankweiler says, “When the stakes are high, I never cheat. I consider myself too important to do that.” What does she mean?
  34. How does Mrs. Frankweiler help both Claudia and Jamie get something they want?
  35. How does the author foreshadow the file that holds Mrs. Frankweiler’s secret?
  36. Is Mrs. Frankweiler the way you expected she would be? Why or why not?
  37. Claudia says you should learn something new every day. Mrs. Frankweiler says that some days you should learn a lot, but on others you should let “what is already in you to swell up inside you until it touches everything.” Which idea do you agree with and why?
  38. Why isn’t a secret much fun if no one knows you have it?

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