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Museum Piece: How ‘Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’ Became A Kids Classic

Editor's Note:

From unsung authors of “space opera” to censorship in social media, your Daily Blunt is here to inform and entertain.

Fifty years onward, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler remains the ultimate running-away-from-home fantasy for kids, thanks to the lavish historical detail and gentle characterizations in what could otherwise be a truly terrifying scenario.  Smithsonian has prepared a loving tribute to the book and its author, E.L. Konigsburg, retracing her steps from the original inspiration for this beloved book all the way to the present day, in which a lot of the features of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that kids first learned about in print are no longer available to the public.

If you consider science-fiction as a “traditionally male” genre that women have finally begun to infiltrate, then you’ve got a lot to learn. Thank goodness Judith Tarr is here to lead a discussion on the apparent invisibility of female writers who showed up to work, left their mark, and discovered firsthand how quickly that mark can be erased in a notoriously sexist industry. Listing several accomplished female “space opera” writers, pointing out all the tricks they’ve adopted to help their works blend into the genre. For example, the late, great Andre Norton: “Her females are deliberately strong and subversive, but in speaking roles, they’re in the distinct minority. They’re also, almost without exception, not standard human women. Mostly they’re aliens. Maelen. Jaelithe. Half-Earthling, all-inept Kaththea. It’s a man’s universe, and women have to be downright alien to be seen or heard.”

Matthew Caruana Galizia is the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who helped cover the Panama Papers — so why are his posts alleging wrongdoing by the Maltese Prime Minister getting deleted by Facebook? After raising these allegations, Galizia found himself locked out of his account, and the posts deleted, raising concerns about the social media giant’s ability to shape and censor the news. Technically Facebook claims to “allow people to publish material that would otherwise violate its standards if it was found to be ‘newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest,'” and The Guardian makes a case for why time-sensitive updates like Galizias — which landed during in the weeks before an election — are 100% significant to the public’s interest.

Here’s a Flashback Friday for you: The Paris Review recalls the history of London’s Bethnal Green Library, which served as a shelter for citizens during the Blitz. “Librarians handed out poetry, plays, novels, nonfiction, and children’s books” as civilians took shelter from the bombs hammering down upon the city, the article’s author discovered. Support your local library, folks — you never know what dark times may lie ahead.