Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 176 pages
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Rating: 3/5 stars
“When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run fromsomewhere 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 that her younger brother, Jamie, has money and thus can help her with the 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 an auction for a bargain price of $250. 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. This quest leads Claudia to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.”
As a child I remember loving this book a ton. I thought there was so much adventure and mystery here. I was really excited to read it with my 10 year old son (we read it as a family). We all thought it was a bit lackluster and I think a lot of it is because of how dated the book is. This is not one of those books that ages gracefully and remains relevant.
When I read this as a child I remember thinking the adventure of living in a museum would be amazing and I admired how Claudia and James made it all work out. This time through that seemed kind of silly and lame; there is no way you’d be able to do that in a museum today. My son ended up thinking that was “boring and silly” and couldn’t get past the logistics of it.
As an adult I think the ending of the book had more impact on me than the rest of the story. I don’t think when I read this the first time I grasped how important the ending was. I also think that the gravity of the ending was also missed by my son this time around, but my husband did appreciate it.
Unfortunately a lot of time was spent explaining archaic terminology and processes to my son because this book is just SO dated. Some of this was of interest to him and some was not. In the end I don’t think anyone in the family liked how dated the book was. I supposed some could say it’s a nostalgic look into the past, but that really doesn’t fit the tone of the story.
Overall everyone in the family decided that this was an “okay” book but not great. Complaints were that it was too slow, too boring, and just old sounding. My son thought the “living in a museum idea was kind of neat but silly”. He also didn’t think it was nice of the kids to leave their parents worried like that 🙂 In the end this is one of those books I kind of wish I hadn’t re-read as an adult because it’s not nearly as awesome and adventurous as I remembered. This just isn’t one of those books that stand the test of time well.