I came to this book based on a recommendation I read on Twitter from Robin Stevens, the author of the Murder Most Unladylike series. This book is a vintage children’s classic apparently, first published in the 1960’s, and I think it passed me by because it is American.
Twelve year old Claudia Kincaid, straight A student, has had enough of being good and decides to run away. But it has to be somewhere beautiful – so she and her little brother Jamie (who has a stash of money from playing cards) head off to live in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art There they sleep in a bed owned by a queen, bathe in a fountain with bronze dolphins and, most excitingly of all, come across a mysterious angel statue that leads them on the trail of an eccentric old lady and a life changing discovery.
My review:- I kept thinking all the way through this, this is so cute. I really loved this book. Claudia has the terrible habit of constantly correcting her brothers grammar (I learned a lot!) whilst Jamie is a money-man, cheats at cards and whilst he at time finds his sister utterly annoying he absolutely adores her and thinks she is super smart. The pair steal away from home on the school bus, taking the train into New York city where they head for the museum, which is free to get in. Claudia is so smart she has the whole thing planned out. She knows how they will manage to stay in the museum unnoticed, she knows how they’ll survive and she is desperate to remain inconspicuous. Jamie doesn’t even understand the word! This crazy pair spend a week living in the museum, always intending to go home once Claudia feels enough time has passed for her to be appreciated a little more, and they have all manner of adventures. They spend their days learning about money and their evenings hiding in the toilets and then bathing in the restaurant fountain, which is freezing but does contain lucky quarters. A statue is delivered to the museum during their stay, an angel that the museum bought for $225 at auction but firmly believe was actually created by Michelangelo. The children are intrigued by the mystery and set about solving it. To do this they spend a day at the library and with the clues they uncover write a letter to the museum, giving a PO Box return address, a box they rented for a quarter. In time not money.
The mystery becomes all consuming particularly for Claudia who decides she can’t go home until she has worked out the answer. Eventually their investigation takes them to the home of Mrs Frankweiler, the previous owner of the angel and the person that probably has the answers
I thought this book was fabulous, a great read for 8 and overs though some of the words might need explaining. Good learning though. And I think that is what this book is aimed to be. There are lots of grammar lessons and life lessons all mixed in under the guise of a rather lovely story. A great bed time read for older children particularly if you tell them its bedtime and let them prove you wrong!