by Alexie Basil and Patrick Clark
When you encounter a truly special book—one of the timeless stories that speaks to so many generations of readers—it is difficult not to wonder about who created it. To celebrate the life and legacy of one such creator, here are five interesting facts about From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and its author, Elaine Lobl Konigsburg!
(Some of these fun facts come from the afterword, written by the author herself. Make sure to read it for more!)
This story was inspired by a time when Konigsburg took her children on a picnic and they complained about not having the comforts of home during their meal. She thought to herself that if her kids ever ran away from home, they wouldn’t settle for accommodations less extravagant than the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can see this reflected in the very first paragraph of the book, describing Claudia’s feelings about picnics.
Konigsburg’s children sat for the illustrations in the book. Her daughter, Laurie, posed for Claudia; her son Ross posed for Jamie; and her son Paul posed for a random boy sitting at the front of the bus in chapter one.
In 1995, a New York University professor discovered a previously unknown work of Michelangelo—The Young Archer—in the lobby of the French Embassy. The discovery bore such a resemblance to the Kincaids’ discovery in the book that Elaine was asked if she knew about the statue all along. She did not.
In 1968, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the Newbery Medal. That same year, another novel by Konigsburg, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, won a Newbery Honor. Elaine is the only author to win both the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year.
Here is a video put together by Patrick Clark, celebrating Elaine’s favorite quote from the book!
E.L. Konigsburg is the only author to have won the Newbery Medal and be runner-up in the same year. In 1968, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the Newbery Medal and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth was named a Newbery Honor Book. Almost thirty years later she won the Newbery Medal once again for The View from Saturday. Among her other acclaimed books are Silent to the Bone, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, and The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World.
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