Over the weekend, listening to NPR as I am wont to do, I learned that Newbery Medal-winning children's author E.L. Konigsburg dies at the age of eighty-three. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was probably the most important book I read in elementary school. The story of Claudia Kincaid and her kid brother Jamie running away to live in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City while solving the mystery of the Michelangelo angel explains so much, if you know me.
I won't go so far as to say Konigsburg's novel made me the person I am, but it certainly piqued my curiosity about a much bigger world. Mine was not a family steeped in art or music, so Mixed up Files was an escape to a place of which I had not even dreamed. Knowing this new world existed, I wanted to explore it. I became infatuated by museums and took every opportunity offered to travel and have visited the greatest art collections the world over, and I have spent an inordinate amount of time in New York at the Met.
My love of reading I owe to Konigsburg, I suspect. And my love of mysteries too. I
Good writers create characters that either describe the person a reader wants to be or the person the reader already is. The best writers do both,and Konigsburg certainly did for me. In honor of this wonderful author whom I owe such a debt, I think it is time to re-read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Soon I will be able to share it with my Godsons too.