Sunday, May 08, 2016

Every Day in May: 8

Claudia Kincaid

from the book From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg


“I've been the oldest child since before you were born.”

"I didn't run away to come home the same."

“Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her pack. She didn't like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere.” 


I'm pretty sure that most people remember this book very well, but not our heroine's name (unlike another Claudia I could mention).  Claudia Kincaid decides one day that she's just not appreciated at home, so she plans to run away. But not just anywhere - to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, so that she can have art and culture as well.

Claudia is immensely practical; she takes her little brother Jaime along because he has the most money in his piggy bank. And that yearning for something more for herself than the everyday monotony of being a big sister to three younger brothers, and being in charge of them and doing chores while they did none - making straight As as well - I get that and I appreciate that. She didn't just run away from home, she did it in style. And while I never longed to run away from home as a kid, I did secretly want to live in a museum and be surrounded by more art than I could handle, and have the luxury of staying and enjoying it as long as I wanted to.

If you've read the book, you'll know what the mysterious symbol means on the paper Claudia is holding. (And if you haven't, that's even more reason to read this Newbery Award winner now as an adult.) Claudia leaves home - and returns there - on her own terms. And for that, I love her.

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