I have been listening to an old favorite childhood book as an audio-book this week, and with the wonky schedule I've been balancing lately, it has hit the spot.
From the Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg is a book I read when I was probably nine or ten years old, and though I haven't picked up since, I've remembered it all these years. It's as a sweet and suspenseful story that follows two siblings as they run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Claudia and her younger accomplice Jamie visit Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library, and spend their nights sleeping in antique canopy beds deep in the halls of the museum. Eventually, they find a beautiful statue in the museum, "Angel" that the museum has purchased for $225 but is suspected to be one of the great undiscovered works of Michelangelo. The siblings strive to solve the mystery, and wonder and adventure ensue. It was written in 1967, so certainly excuse the seemingly impossible circumstances here. It is incredibly refreshing to watch as the two children attempt to find clues and solve the case using their library cards, the New York Times, and fingerprints. No smart phones allowed!
Some parts of the book resonated just as they did when I was a child, especially the beginning of the book where the main character, Claudia, explains that she chose New York City to run away to: "because it was elegant; it was important; and busy." The ensuing adventures in the nooks and crannies of the Met, the meals of macaroni and cheese and coffee in small diners (where the bill comes to a couple of dollars), and the sight of ice skaters at Rockefeller Center all hit me hard in the soft spot I have for NYC.
Other parts of the book made me laugh out loud and wonder whether or not certain references went right over my head as a kid, such as when the younger brother Jamie finds an uneaten candy bar on the street, and is warned by Claudia "it’s probably poisoned or filled with marijuana, so you’ll eat it and become either dead or a dope addict. … Someone put it there on purpose. Someone who pushes dope.” What?! Too funny!
Listening to the story as an audio-book has been a lovely throwback as well, taking me back to the days of being read a story as a kid. I have listened to the book while commuting on the subway (MUCH better than scrolling through CNN), as well as falling asleep to it as I lay in bed, which had a comforting, cozy feel to it. It's like the best parts of childhood and adulthood combined: you get to stay up as late as you want AND you get a bedtime story. What's not to like?
Have you read this book? If you have, you might enjoy this Mental Floss article that has some fun facts about the book.
What's your favorite way to throw back to childhood?