From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler hit Fuse #8’s Top 100 List yesterday, and one of the commenters linked to a brochure (pdf) the Metropolitan Museum of Art gives out about the real-life art that appears in the book. It contains a long author’s note about how she got the idea! It starts like this:
The beginnings of the idea for the book started with a piece of popcorn on a blue silk chair.
My three children and I were visiting the Museum, wandering through the period rooms on the first floor when I spotted a single piece of popcorn on the seat of a blue silk chair. There was a velvet rope across the doorway of the room. How had that lonely piece of popcorn arrived on the seat of that blue silk chair? Had someone sneaked in one night—it could not have happened during the day—slipped behind the barrier, sat in that chair, and snacked on popcorn? For a long time after leaving the Museum that day, I thought about that piece of popcorn on the blue silk chair and how it got there.
…and there is much more, including the solution to the real-life mystery of the statue.
I wonder if the museum has to guard against people sneaking a single piece of popcorn onto that chair, in tribute, the way Julie Powell left butter in Julia Child’s replica kitchen at the Smithsonian. I would be tempted…an air-popped kernel, of course, so it wouldn’t damage the silk.
I also ran across Talk Talk, an out-of-print book of talks by Konigsburg. Interlibrary loan, I love you!
Update, 8/28/12: The talks had quite a bit of discussion about “political correctness” that I did not find especially astute. Specifically, there was a distressing lack of “maybe I am not the expert to be talking on this.” However, I was interested to see that E.L. Konigsburg had a hard time finding books that felt like “home” when she was a kid, because of class issues. She would try, she said, and the book would be about a girl named Betsy, who took naps, and whose mother had “help.” One of the very first exceptions was Little Women. There’s Hannah Mullet, of course, but maybe the fact that the March women talk about money and take jobs made the difference?