Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Book Club: From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Book Club discussion groups are a great way to get kids excited about books and discussing them. Click on the "Book Club" tag to read more posts about great books to use for Book Club discussion groups and posts about how to set up and run Book Clubs in your classroom.

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

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1968) by E.L. Koningsburg and winner of the Newbery Award. (Fun fact, E.L. Koningsburg also won a Newbery Honor that year for Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, the only author to have won both in the same year.)


Another classic story worthy of still reading. Claudia is bored with her life and decides to do something dramatic - namely, run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York! (While I am sure many of today's parents would find that an especially shocking idea, kids are immediately captivated by this story.) Once at the museum, the story blossoms into a mystery with the arrival of an angel statue and the questions about the style (and persona) of the story's narrator.

Reading Level: 6.8
Guided Reading Level: S
Lexile Level: 700L

Big Ideas and Discussion Topics

  • Identity. Claudia struggles with this idea of who she is and how she wants to be someone "different" when she returns from her adventures. Kids can often relate to these ideas, as well as use this as a jumping off point to discuss their own self-identity.
  • Perspective and point of view. (Unreliable narrator.) The frame of the book establishes that the narrator is somehow involved in the story, but [her] role does not become clear until much later in the book. This is a great opportunity for readers to infer and make predictions about the identity of the narrator.

Suggested Chapter Breakdowns

I usually use four to six sections for Book Club discussions with my students. They meet twice a week (often Tuesdays and Thursdays), which gives us two or three weeks to finish any given round. When I first started I had many more Book Club divisions, but I found that kids had a hard time sustaining interest in a book when it became incredibly drawn out.
  1. Intro and Chapter 1, pages 1-18
  2. Chapter 2-3, pages 19-42
  3. Chapter 4, pages 43-66
  4. Chapters 5-6, pages 67-101
  5. Chapters 7-8, pages 102-123
  6. Chapters 9-10, pages 124-162
Or, if you want to complete it in four sessions:
  1. Intro and Chapters 1-3, pages 1-42
  2. Chapters 4-5, pages 43-87
  3. Chapters 6-8, pages 88-123
  4. Chapters 9-10, pages 124-162
[Please check page numbers against your own editions, as publishers sometimes change the size or shape of the book, which can alter the page numbers.]

Did you ever want to run away from home? (Click here for more Book Club recommendations.)


  1. Did you know they made this book into a movie with Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It's hard to find, but kind of worth it.

    When my Kiddo finished reading the book, I took her to the museum, gave her a floor plan and let her take me to all the places mentioned in the book. It was lots of fun for anyone living or visiting NYC.

    Thanks for the great reading guide for kids. Sometimes that really helps them along - especially reluctant readers, I've found.

    1. That would be an amazing trip! Super cool way to "nerd out" about a book and enjoy an incredible museum.

      I had no idea about the movie. Off to investigate ... !


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