Daily Archives: April 21, 2013

The Brilliant E. L. Konigsburg

Claudia, so completely prepared, and  Jamie, so careful with the budget.  They are still and will always be two shrewd suburban kids who run away to a timeless Metropolitan Museum of Art to bathe in its elegant pool and sleep in its famous historical bed while investigating the mystery of the angel in the remarkable children’s book  From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  This American classic was penned by the wonderful writer E. L. Konigsburg who passed away this past week.

While she is probably best known for that marvelous story of two resourceful siblings in a New York City museum, Konigsburg wrote many other books for children, often featuring art and history. She is the only person to have won a Newbery medal (for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler) and Newbery honor (for her first book  Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth) in the same year, 1967.  She received another Newbery Medal in 1997 for The View from Saturday.

I was fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Konigsburg a few times. My favorite memory of these was at a late evening drinks reception where I sat with her and a handful of others on bar stools around a small high table, quite starry-eyed to be included.  She was definitely one of the classiest and smartest people I have ever read or met and I hope that her books will continue to provide the same intellectual and aesthetic pleasure for others that they have for me.



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