Review by Linda Harmon
This year is the 35th anniversary of
the Newbery Award-winning children’s novel "From the Mixed-Up Files
of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." Katie Couric of the "Today Show"
recently interviewed the author, Elaine Konigsburg, about the book.
Katie told her that it is her favorite book from childhood. They
discussed the timeless nature of the book and how the main message
is as important today as it was 35 years ago. This interview
intrigued me so much that I had to read the book. It is now one of
It is the story of Claudia Kincaid and
her brother Jamie, the second youngest of her three brothers.
Claudia is feeling very unappreciated at home and, as we discover
later in the story, wants to feel differently about herself.
She devises a very well-thought-out
plan, right down to the smallest detail. She doesn’t want to go
alone, and so she chooses Jamie because of his ability to handle and
save money, which is very important for being comfortable while you
are running away. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
has everything she is looking for in a place to run to; it is a
large, comfortable, beautiful, indoor place.
Among the many injustices that she
feels are imposed upon her, emptying the wastebaskets is the one she
despises the most. Yet, while emptying the wastebaskets one
Saturday, she discovers a 10-ride pass with one pass remaining for
the train that goes to New York. She and Jamie can travel for a half
fare each, making one pass just what they need to get them to the
The day finally arrives, and after
leaving a letter for their parents telling them not to worry, their
[to top of second column in
After arriving safely at the museum,
the two hide their personal belongings, which Claudia is carrying in
violin case and Jamie in a trumpet case because those are less
conspicuous than luggage. They each carry a book bag as well. The
guard at the museum doesn’t think it’s unusual for two children with
book bags and instrument cases to visit the museum in the middle of
the day because about a thousand school children visit daily.
The plan is to check their bags, check
out their new surroundings, find a bed, check out of the museum at
4:30 and re-enter in the back at the entrance to the Children’s
Museum. When they hear the bell ring they know the library will be
closing in five minutes. That is the signal for them to go to their
respective restrooms, standing on the toilet seat with the door
slightly open, and wait until about 5:30 or until they are sure all
of the staff has left.
This is their planned daily routine
until Claudia and Jamie discover a mysterious statue of an angel.
Claudia loves the statue the minute she sees it and becomes obsessed
with discovering who the artist is that created it. This is the
beginning of a very interesting mystery.
Before their adventure is over, Claudia
also learns a valuable lesson about herself.
This book is
recommended for ages 9 to 12. For more information about this book,
please visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call (217) 732-5732.
[Linda Harmon, Lincoln Public
There have been many books written
about World War II; however, few describe the frightful experiences
of the inexperienced teenage combatants. "The Young Draftee" is an
intimate accounting of what it was like to be a teenage draftee just
out of high school and sent to the South Pacific to fight the
Induced by the discovery of a box of
approximately a hundred old, faded wartime photographs, author Monte
Howell decided to put down on paper his personal experiences of the
horrors of war. However, as he states, the war he encountered was
"beyond being called a brutal, savage war or some other words which
can explain what these men went through."
"The terrain, climate and disease those
men had to fight besides the enemy was unbearable. The war in the
South Pacific was a war without mercy."
The unknown was always the frightening
component of the war. From basic training to the actual deployment
in the theatre of action, we are apprised of the awful fear that was
always prevalent. Never knowing where you would be stationed. What
to expect once you arrived at your destination? Who would die and
would survive? These queries were always foremost in the minds of
Howell does not hold back in his
disdain for Gen. Douglas McArthur, whom he described as old, vain
and egotistical. In fact he even recounts an incident where McArthur
and his staff delayed the evacuation of some seriously wounded men
in order that the general could have his picture taken while
performing an inspection at the front lines. Unfortunately, with
this four-hour delay, two of the wounded men had died while lying in
the hot sun. The author goes on to say that McArthur had made some
very bad decisions which caused the death of many Americans;
however, he never shared the blame for these tragedies.
[to top of second column in
This is the
kind of a story that is omitted from our history books, and it is
only when we read first-person accounts of the war that we can truly
appreciate the suffering of the soldiers. For many of us who are
unfamiliar with the war in Japan, this book will serve as an
excellent introduction, devoid of the dry scholarly texts that
perhaps we read as students in high school or college. The author’s
penetrating personal perceptions of the war only confirm to us that
war is about people, and we never seem to learn that no one wins.
Monte Howell’s new book, "The Young
Draftee," has received outstanding reviews which are now appearing on
the following websites: