Every Girl Should Read: E.L. Konigsburg

Elaine Lobl Konigsburg, two-time Newbery Medalist--in 1968 for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; and again in 1997 for The View from Saturday--died on Friday, April 19, at the age of 83. 

In honor of her memory, and in recognition of a wonderful writer of timeless classics, she is this month's pick as the author "every girl should read."

I think this quote from her sums up her writing style and why she touched so many, particularly in the tween years, “The essential problems remain the same. … The kids I write about are asking for the same things I wanted. They want two contradictory things. They want to be the same as everyone else, and they want to be different from everyone else. They want acceptance for both.” 

One of the things that is not as well-known about E.L. Konigsburg (and probably why I like her so much) is that she was an accomplished artist as well. Considering her most famous book, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, takes place almost entirely in the Met, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Her work hangs in galleries all over the country, and she drew most of the covers for her books, as well as other children's authors.
“Art comes from a visceral need and is usually generated by something I have seen; writing comes from something that happens in my head and my heart,” Mrs. Konigsburg told the Times-Union during an interview published in October 2000, when she was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.
One of my favorite books by her, The Outcasts, is about a preteen girl named Margaret who, after being "rescued" by her uncle from a horrible summer camp, becomes embroiled in a fight to rescue his outdoor artwork from neighbors worried about property values. Margaret is a smart and determined girl to the end, and Konigsburg masterfully weaves together a story that leaves your sense of justice satisfied through sensitivity, caring, and a win-win ending.
We have lost one of the "great" children's books authors, and I am just so thankful that in her writing and art, she left behind an amazing legacy for many to enjoy for years to come. She is definitely one you don't want to miss!


  1. I agree! One of my favorites as a teacher. The kids loved it when I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and we all wanted to go to New York to the museum!

  2. What a wonderful tribute! I learned some things. She was one of my favorite authors as a girl and as a teacher. Thanks, Tanesha.


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