Saturday, October 25, 2014

Literary Tourism - New York, revisited

As none of you remember, I have already visited New York in a literary sense.  The problem is there is so much literature based there, and I don't feel that my selection did it justice.  I reread a book that I have loved since I was ten.

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

Claudia feels largely unappreciated in her comfortable upper middle class family and plans to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  For financial reasons, she brings her brother Jamie along with her.  While at the museum they discover a new acquisition  called Angel and are determined to discover whether it is an authentic Michelangelo.  For a week they sleep, eat, and bathe in the museum until their curiosity over the statue drives them to visit Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler's home.  She is more than happy to learn their story.

I love this book!  I also know that I am not the only one who does.  I have discussed the merits of this book with a surprising number of fellow admirers.  When I recommend it to kids at the library, they typically return with a positive review.

Reasons I love this book:
  • Like Claudia, I enjoy the finer things in life.  If I were to run away, it would be to someplace classy and easy.
  •  Perhaps because of this book, I love fiction about art.  Others that I enjoy include Chasing Vermeer, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and Hana in the Time of the Tulips.  One exception being the Da Vinci Code. 
  • The theme of family and particularly the importance of motherhood. 
The first time I went to New York City, I was determined to visit the Met largely because of this book.

When I visited, I randomly found myself in the wing with all the furniture and thought to myself, "Hey, that's where Claudia slept!"  I wondered about all the adventures a young runaway could have in the museum.

When I worked at the library and had to check the bathrooms every night, this book reminded me to be sure to check every stall.  A kid who wanted to sleep with the books might be hiding in there.

 And really, who wouldn't want to bathe in a fountain?

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