Tuesday, October 6, 2009

September Meeting Wrap-Up

The September meeting of the Book Buddies Book Club actually took place yesterday, Monday, October 5th. We met to discuss From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg. We had a wonderful meeting - everyone was very enthusiastic and happy to be back at book club after taking the summer off. We also welcomed a couple of new members to our group and for anyone else who is interested, it's not too late to sign up! Post a comment to this blog or email me at cantonio@newportlibraryri.org and we'll get you started!

Overall, to my surprise, feelings were mixed about From the Mixed-Up Files. Many felt that the book was very dated (it is set in 1967 and certain things like how much things cost were very specific to that time period) and many felt that it was very slow-paced. Everyone liked the idea of running away and living at the Metropolitan Museum in New York but a few members felt that the story got bogged down in the middle and lost some of it's excitement. Others were less interested in the mystery of Angel and didn't see why it mattered if it was a genuine Michelangelo scultpure or not.

Most club members liked the main character, Claudia, because she had good taste and seemed like someone who would be fun to hang out with. A few thought that she was bossy and too fixated on the statue. Everyone agreed that running away from home was not the correct way for Claudia and Jamie to handle their problems and felt that they should have talked to their parents instead. But they were glad that at the very least, Claudia sent them a note telling them not to worry.

We agreed that Claudia had a pretty good escape plan and that the museum was a good place to run away to because, as one member put it, "it was a very unexpected place to hide." One thing we did not like was the part of the story where Claudia and Jamie took the money from the fountain while they were bathing. We had a brief discussion about how the coins represented wishes and that taking those wishes was not the right thing to do no matter how in need of money they were.

We discussed the format of the story - how it is told as an account from Mrs. Frankweiler to her lawyer, Saxonberg - and whether or not this was the best way to tell the story. Many readers felt that the story would have been more exciting and would have included more details had it been told by Claudia and Jamie instead because it is their story and they experienced it. We ended by talking about the meaning of the title "The Mixed-Up Files" and why Mrs. Frankweiler's files are "mixed-up."

We also looked at some of the different book covers that have been used (see my earlier blog post) and talked a little bit about Michelangelo and the Italian Renaissance.

Overall, book club members were divided on From the Mixed-Up Files. Those who liked it LOVED IT and those who didn't like it, really didn't.

Following our book discussion, everyone decorated reading journals for this year. The idea behind the journals is that as we are reading during the month, members will write down any questions or observations they have about the book. Then when we get together we will have a good basis for getting our book discussion started.

It was a terrific first meeting of the new school year and I look forward to the months ahead!

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