'Mixed-Up Files' Author E.L. Konigsburg Dies At 83

Apr 22, 2013
Originally published on April 22, 2013 12:22 pm
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Even the happiest, most well-adjusted kid dreams of running away from home. And the author who's best known for creating perhaps the most famous 12-year-old runaway in children's literature was E.L. Konigsburg. Ms. Konigsburg died this weekend. Her book "From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" won the prestigious Newbury Award. It introduced us to Claudia Kincaid, the spunky kid who, bored with the Connecticut suburbs, runs away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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MARTIN: Claudia and her 9-year-old brother, Jamie, essentially move into the museum. They sleep in one of the display beds. They wash in the pool at the restaurant. They make a little money pulling spare change out of the water. And they solve a mystery. It is the perfect childhood experience within an adult world.

"Mixed Up Files" may be her most well-known book, but Konigsburg was the author of more than 20 others for kids. Her main characters, like Claudia Kincaid, tend to be 12-year-olds. When a biographer asked her why, she explained, quote, "Because it is at that age that the serious question of childhood is asking for an answer. Kids want to be like everyone else. and they want to be different from everyone else. So the question is, how do you reconcile these opposing longings?"

E.L. Konigsburg died at the age of 83.

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MARTIN: And you're listening to WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.