Posts filed under ‘From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’

He heard the voices of two men talking over the sound of water running in the sink.

Posted by: Phil McAndrew
Book: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
(purchase on Amazon

Jamie stood on the toilet seat waiting. He leaned his head against the wall of the booth and braced himself for what would happen next. The guard would come in and make a quick check of his station. Jamie still felt a ping during that short inspection; that was the only part that still wasn’t quite routine, and that’s why he braced himself. Then the lights would be turned out. Jamie would wait twelve minutes (lag time, Claudia called it) and emerge from hiding.


Except the guard didn’t come, and Jamie couldn’t relax until after he felt that final ping. And the lights stayed on, stayed on. Jamie checked his watch ten times within five minutes; he shook his arm and held the watch up to his ear. It was ticking slower than his heart and much more softly. What was wrong? They had caught Claudia! Now they would look for him! He’d pretend he didn’t speak English. He wouldn’t answer any questions.

Jamie and Claudia hide in the museum bathrooms every night when the guards are closing up the museum for the night. On this particular night, something was awry! Eventually two guards come into the very bathroom Jamie is hiding in…

He heard the voices of two men talking over the sound of water running in the sink.

“Yeah. Two feet of marble. What do you figure it weighs?”

“I dunno. Whatever it weighs, it has to be handled delicate. Like it was a real angel.”

“C’mon. They probably have the new pedestal ready. We can start.”

They were moving Angel. The angel statue that was possibly the work of Michelangelo! The angel statue that Jamie and Claudia had become obsessed with!

Later Jamie and Claudia manage to examine the angel statue’s former pedestal. Upon close inspection, they make a discovery! A discovery that they decide to anonymously tell the museum about via a letter that they type up on a typewriter outside of a typewriter store on Fifth Avenue.


August 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm 4 comments

A Statue of an Angel

Posted by: Phil McAndrew
Book: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
(purchase on Amazon)

Claudia paid no attention, for now they reached what everyone was standing in line to see. A statue of an angel; her arms were folded, and she was looking holy. As Claudia passed by, she thought that that angel was the most beautiful, most graceful little statue she had ever seen; she wanted to stop and stare; she almost did, but the crowd wouldn’t let her.

While wandering the museum on their first full day as secret residents, Claudia and Jamie come across an enormous line in the Hall of the Italian Renaissance. Thousands of people are, for some reason, lining up to see this one little statue of an angel. Claudia becomes obsessed with this statue, but is only able to look at it for a few moments before the insane crowd pushes her along.

The next day Claudia and Jamie obtain a copy of  The New York Times (illustrated in my last post!), from which they learn that the statue was recently acquired by the museum from the collection of a Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. People are going nuts over the statue because it is suspected to have been the work of Michelangelo himself (though it has yet to actually be proven)! Upon reading this, Claudia and Jamie make a decision that is to shape the rest of their adventure. They are going to solve the mystery of this little statue.

“When I grow up, I’m going to find a way to know for certain who did a statue.”

This was all Claudia needed. Something that had been smoldering inside her since she first saw the statue, that had been fed by the Times article, now flared into an idea.

“Jamie, let’s do it now. Let’s skip learning everything about everything in the museum. Let’s concentrate on the statue.”

June 24, 2010 at 5:15 pm 3 comments

At Last She Found A Bed That She Considered Perfectly Wonderful

Posted by: Phil McAndrew
Book: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
(purchase on Amazon)

Hello! Apologies for my absence during the month of April. My former computer decided that it no longer wanted to turn on shortly before I was due to post. It’s okay though! I have a new computer now and two months worth of material to share! First is my illustration for April (up above).

They wandered back to the rooms of fine French and English furniture. It was here Claudia knew for sure she had chosen the most elegant place in the world to hide. She wanted to sit on the lounge chair that had been made for Marie Antoinette or at least sit at her writing table. But signs everywhere said not to step on the platform. And some of the chairs has silken ropes strung across the arms to keep you from even trying to sit down. She would have to wait until after lights out to be Marie Antoinette.

At last she found a bed that she considered perfectly wonderful, and she told Jamie that they would spend the night there.

Claudia and Jamie have successfully made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they’ve planned to hide out. On their first day they wander around the museum, blending in with the crowds and scoping out the joint. When the museum closes, they hide out in the bathroom stalls until the staff leaves.

As Jamie got into bed, he still felt uneasy, and it wasn’t because he was worried about being caught. Claudia had planned everything so well that he didn’t concern himself about that. The strange way he felt had little to do with the strange place in which they were sleeping. Claudia felt it, too. Jamie lay there thinking. Finally, realization came.

“You know, Claude,” he whispered, “I didn’t brush my teeth.”

For the month of May I decided to try something a little different. If I were actually creating illustrations for this book, I’d want to sprinkle little spot illustrations throughout the text. Tons of them. Little maps and diagrams and notes and drawings of important objects. Here are a few examples…

Jamie, the chosen brother, didn’t even care for hot fudge sundaes although he could have bought one at least every other week. A year and a half before, Jamie had made a big purchase; he had spent his birthday money and part of his Christmas money on a transistor radio, made in Japan, purchased from Woolworth’s. Occasionally, he bought a battery for it. They would probably need the radio; that made another good reason for choosing Jamie.

“What’s that hanging from your belt?”

“My compass. Got it for my birthday last year.”

“Why did you bother bringing that? You’re carrying enough weight around already.”

“You need a compass to find your way in the woods. Out of the woods, too. Everyone uses a compass for that.”

“What woods?” Claudia asked.

They got the New York Times the next day. Neither Claudia nor Jamie bought it. The man who left it on the counter while he was looking at the reproductions of antique jewelry bought it. The Kincaids stole it from him. They left the museum immediately thereafter.

Claudia read the paper while they ate breakfast.

This last spot illustration jumps ahead in the story just a little. Claudia and Jamie are searching for information on something in the paper, something that they encounter in the museum. I hint at it a little with the headline towards the bottom of the second column: Record Crowd Views Museum Bargain. This object becomes an obsession for the two Kincaid children and will be introduced in my illustration for June!

I’ll be posting a little bit about my process with this latest batch of illustrations on my own blog later today. Please check it out! I’m also giving away some mini comics!

May 27, 2010 at 12:00 am 8 comments

The Coast Was Clear

Posted by: Phil McAndrew
Book: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
(purchase on Amazon)

The next morning Claudia and Jamie boarded the school bus as usual, according to plan. They sat together in the back and continued sitting there when they arrived at school and everyone got out of the bus. No one was supposed to notice this, and no one did. There was so much jostling and searching for homework papers and mittens that no one paid any attention to anything except personal possessions until they were well up the walk to school. Claudia instructed Jamie to pull his feet up and crouch his head down so that Herbert, the driver, couldn’t see him. He did, and she did the same.

Claudia and Jamie begin their great adventure by stowing away on the school bus after it’s dropped all the kids off at school. They hide in the back of the bus while Herbert drives the bus to the lot on Boston Post Road, where all the school buses are parked.

The bus bounced along like an empty cracker box on wheels- almost empty. Fortunately, the bumps made it noisy. Otherwise, Claudia would have worried for fear the driver could hear her heart, for it sounded to her like the electric percolator brewing the morning’s coffee. She didn’t like keeping her head down so long. Perspiration was causing her cheek to stick to the plastic seat; she was convinced that she would develop a medium-serious skin disease within five minutes after she got off the bus.

And so, according to plan, they stay hidden until well after Herbert parks and leaves.

When they got up, both were grinning. They peeked out the window of the bus, and saw that the coast was clear.

March 25, 2010 at 9:16 am 8 comments

She planned very carefully.

Posted by: Phil McAndrew
Book: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
(purchase on Amazon)

Claudia had planned her speech. “I want you, Jamie, for the greatest adventure in our lives.”
Jamie muttered, “Well, I wouldn’t mind if you’d pick on someone else.”
Claudia looked out the window and didn’t answer. Jamie said, “As long as you’ve got me here, tell me.”

My first illustration shows 11 year old Claudia Kincaid informing her younger brother, Jamie, that she has selected him to accompany her on a great adventure. She plans to run away from home and she wants him to come with her. At first Jamie isn’t terribly interested (Claudia pulled him away from his daily game of war with his pal Bruce to break this news to him), but after some convincing he agrees.

He sat up in his seat, unzipped his jacket, put one foot up on the seat, placed his hands over his bent knee and said out of the corner of his mouth, “O.K., Claude, when do we bust out of here? And How?”
Claudia stifled the urge to correct his grammar again. “On Wednesday. Here’s the plan. Listen carefully.”
Jamie squinted his eyes and said “Make it complicated, Claude. I like complications.”

This seemed like a perfect scene to start with. It paints a terrific picture of the relationship between Claudia and Jamie. Reading this scene, my growing excitement for Claudia’s grand scheme mirrors Jamie’s growing enthusiasm for the adventure to come. As Claudia is trying to sell the plan to Jamie, it’s almost as if she’s attempting to convince the reader: this is going to be good.

February 25, 2010 at 10:28 am 7 comments

Phil McAndrew v. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

illustrated by Phil McAndrew

  • Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Phil McAndrew and I’m an illustrator and cartoonist from Syracuse, NY. I’ve created illustrations for magazines, newspapers, animated television spots, theatre scenery, t-shirts, posters, album covers, gallery exhibits, websites and fun. My mini comics have been praised by the American Mustache Institute and on USA Today’s Pop Candy blog. I’ve also contributed comics to a number of anthology books and websites, including Top Shelf 2.0 and all three volumes of the You Ain’t No Dancer books from New Reliable Press. I’m a founding member of Found Hat Press, a collective of talented young illustrators and cartoonists. I love pizza.

  • Why did you pick the book you chose?

I read the book once when I was ten years old and loved it, somehow totally forgot about it, and then rediscovered it in college. It’s for children really, but I’ve probably read it a five or six times now as an adult. It’s about two kids, a brother and sister, running away from home and hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The story is fun, the humor is subtle and sharp at the same time. The characters are as fascinating and complex as the museum they run away to. I’d absolutely include it on my list of favorite books. I think it’ll be a fun challenge, creating illustrations for this story.

The energy in Phil’s illustrations and comics floors me– I love his attention to imperfect characters and his crazy linework! It’ll be quite fun to see the first of these illustrations on February 25, don’t you agree? But why not check out his blog and portfolio?

The last amazing contibutor is up next! Oh, what will the story be? Wait and see in five minutes!

February 5, 2010 at 10:05 am 11 comments


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