117. Mystery Ranch by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Mystery Ranch by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Illustrated by Dirk Gringhuis. (Canada) - (US) - (Kindle)
The Alden Family Mysteries, #4

Pages: 127
Ages: 7+
Finished: Apr. 20, 2012
First Published: 1958
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: children, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:  "An exciting summer began for the four Alden children with the bang of a door."

Publisher's Summary: "The Aldens are spending the summer on their aunt's ranch out west. The ranch is a beautiful place, but Aunt Jane is an unhappy woman who hasn't spoken to their grandfather in years. Can the Boxcar Children help mend things between them? And will an amazing discovery about the ranch change everything?"

Acquired: Purchased a used copy from a garage/book sale or thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: This is part of my Random Bookshelf Reading project. I'm also working on re-reading this series and collecting the first 19.

This book takes a small turn from the formula of the first three.  First the boxcar is not mentioned at all, not even in reminiscences of the past, and the children do not this time go off on their own and make do in the wilderness.  First we see cousin Joe and Alice sent off to Europe for summer vacation on the first page.  This allows the introduction of yet another new relative to the picture, this time it is Grandfather's sister, the children's "Aunt" Jane.  First the girls go to visit this crotchety old lady and win over her heart and then the boys follow suit.  Once again the mystery starts off with a mystery person, a stranger in town.  Could he possibly be up to no good?  Then three men try to buy off Aunt Jane's farm by telling her lies that the farm is worthless.  Who are these suspicious men?  The children set out to answer this mystery and end up finding another exciting mystery as well.  Another fun, entertaining entry in the series.

This one does show its age a little though with the discovery of Uranium on the farm.  I know little of this mineral and after briefly reading about it find the story is quite naive in its treatment of the mining of such and that the ranch being on a Uranium deposit could possibly have been a health concern as would having a fireplace made out of Uranium.  But I imagine in the 50's, Uranium was the "thing" what with it being the beging of the nuclear age and all.  This is all irrelevant to the enjoyment of the story for children, though.

This will be my last "Boxcar Children" review for a while as I am missing Book 5.  So until that one turns up at a thriftstore/booksale, I'll be keeping my eyes open. 

ETA:  Just had book 5 come in on Bookmook last night and it will be on its way to me soon.  Yeah!!!  I want to thank Americans who ship to Canada, there aren't a whole lot of you and it really makes our bookmooching experience inferior when sooooo many people won't ship to us.  It does cost you less to ship a small paperback to Canada than for us to ship to you and you'll find most Canadians are more than willing to ship to the US.  So thank you very much to my US Bookmooch partner for agreeing to send me this needed book.  Sending prayers, warm fuzzies, good karma your way!


  1. By this time I've posted my review on all the different sites I post on and have seen that this book commonly gets low ratings with people saying it is boring or they don't know why they didn't like it.

    There are two reasons I think this book affects peole this way and they are what I mention in my review. (I didn't find the book boring though).

    1) the change in format, so far all the books have followed the exact same format and this one goes against that grain making the book not so comfortable, especially since the children are searated for half of the book.

    2) Uranium may have been "the thing" in 1958 but it is pretty insignificant for modern readers and honestly is a "boring" toic.


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