I had so many favorites as a kid but my most revisited was probably From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.
What was it about this book that made it special to you?
I loved that it was part adventure, part puzzle, and an exciting break from my own day-to-day life as a kid while still feeling safe and orderly in a way that really appealed to me. I have a little brother and we have generally always gotten along, so I also enjoyed the sibling dynamic between Claudia and Jamie because it felt more realistic to me than many fictional brother-and-sister duos. Plus, living in a museum! Still the dream.
Who was your favorite character?
Claudia was everything I was not: bold, brazen, and decisive. But she was also organized and goal-oriented like me and it felt like I got to live out those traits of mine through her adventure while still being a shy kid in my bedroom.
What was the most exciting moment?
When they figure out the mystery! This book is probably the first time I remember feeling that satisfying click of “ah-ha!” which is the dragon that every mystery fan is forever chasing.
Claudia said, “But, Mrs. Frankweiler, you should want to learn one new thing every day. We did even at the museum.”
“No,” I answered, “I don’t agree with that. I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you just accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It’s hollow.”
How did it change your life for the better?
This is probably a chicken-egg situation with this book/my love of museums, but even today if I am asked to close my eyes and go to a happy, calm place, it is never a beach or a forrest or a desert sunset, it’s always sitting on a bench in a dark and quiet museum room.
What would you say to a parent who says they don’t have time to read together with their kids?
I know, as a parent, that it feels impossible to incorporate something new into your family’s schedule, when most of us are stretched very thin in terms of time and energy as it is. But I would say that if you can just put enough time into finding the right books that click with both you and your children, it will stop feeling like a chore on your to-do list and become something that brightens, rather than lengthens, your day.