Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From the Mixed-Up Files of my Mind

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is one of those hugely important, unforgettable books from my childhood. Two smart, funny kids run away to live for a week at the Metropolitan Museum of Art- what could be better?

Now one of my happy mommy moments is sharing favorite childhood books with my daughter, and did we have a great time listening to the audio book of The Mixed-Up Files! (yes, we did)

So when planning a trip to NYC, of course the Metropolitan Museum was part of the plan. I knew the fountain described in the book was no longer there- was it ever? I didn't think Michelangelo's Angel was real- was there a similar statue?

The first person at the Information Desk didn't know anything about the book. The second person smiled and handed us a pamphlet called "The Mixed-Up Files" Issue." We found out there's no statue such as described in the book. "The Fountain of the Muses" was once on display, but now you have to imagine it while looking at other museum fountains. The bed they slept on isn't on display, but similar ones are. We went into the Annie Laurie Aitken Galleries looking for a similar bed. We found a guard. "We read 'The Mixed-Up Files...' I said." She smiled and said, "That is a work of fiction, you know."

Says who?!!

The Fancy beds and writing desks were fabulous. "Let's run away," I said to Madeline. "No," she said, "but if you do, I'll know where to find you."

We had a wonderful time walking around the museum (and especially the Egyptian wing) thinking about Claudia and Jamie's adventure. We had our own adventure. We went to the cafeteria, of course. Madeline had a kids meal in a cardboard taxi cab.
"This is silly," she said. "I'm a little old for this kind of thing." Sounds like something Claudia would say. I only wish we could've ordered a sandwich from the Automat.

Looking over the pamphlet, we saw an insert: draw the room you would run away to and write a few lines about it, turn it in to the information desk and get a 'museum goodie.' Madeline drew and wrote about a room with a comfy bed and a cat. We went to turn it in.

The first person at the information desk didn't know what we were talking about, but she spoke to her supervisor. Now Madeline is looking forward to receiving her 'goodie' in the mail.

I spent a day with my daughter in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, reliving one of my favorite books. I guess I already got my goodie.


  1. Sweet! This will cause a surge of curious young ladies and moms visiting the MET! I would love to read your version of a NY Museum adventure.
    Maureen M

  2. What fun! It's not every day you get to live out a book aventure. Isn't it odd how promotions like this are unknown to the person at the information desk! Ironic. Thanks for sharing.

    Linda Andersen

  3. Too Fun, Constance. Do I see a PB emerging here?

  4. Very Sweet! Now I can look forward to another activity when I go to the MET. I didn't know there was a pamphet!

  5. I LOVED that book!!!!! I was obsessed with it, acutally...... I was in a bookstore
    the other day and noticed that they're selling
    it in a box set along with her other work....I had
    no idea it was even still in print!!!

    You guys sounded like you had such a good time! As Madeline grows up, I bet this experience will resound enormously in her childhood memories!

  6. What a wonderful and interesting trip. Say, Your trip should be a picture book!!!

  7. Enjoyed this post. I had wondered about that statue too. Isn't it amazing how writers can make something sound so real? SO glad you could enjoy the day with your daughter. You are right. That is a gift!

  8. I'm glad this post resonated with everyone- of course you're all fans of The Mixed-Up Files, all the best people are! And I'm happy to think of you all going to the Met and demanding your pamphlet. Thanks for your comments.