133. The Boxcar Children #1 by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  illustrated by L. Kate Deal  (Canada) - (US)
The Alden Family Mysteries, #1

Pages: 156
Ages: 7+
Finished: June 1, 2011
First Published: 1942
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Genre: Children, mystery
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery.
Acquired: Purchased a used copy from a book/garage sale of thrift shop.

Reason for Reading: This is another book from the Random Bookshelf that I am reading from this year.The Boxcar Children have played a big part in my and my children's lives.  I intend to acquire a complete set of the first 19 books (the others hold no interest to me) and keep them as keepers on my juvenile shelves for my future grandchildren.

When I read these books from the library is the mid '70s, they were hardcover's with picture boards and I was entranced with them.  I'd always go over an pick one out to read whether I'd read it before or not.  For my oldest son, who was a very young, strong reader, these were his first chapter books that he read for his own personal pleasure.  Due to my business as a used book dealer at the time of his childhood, we went to a lot of garage sales on Saturdays and he would always take a Boxcar Children book with him in the car and have it finished before we'd finished garage sailing.  He had a huge collection of all the newer books and super specials, etc.  For my younger son, these were his first chapter book read alouds and he loved him so much.  I think he and his dad read about 8 of them when he was about five.  Now having just re-read this one again I'm fairly confident he could read it himself so I'm going to set it aside for him and let him have a go in the near future.

Although the books in this series always have a mystery to solve, this first book does not really have a mystery other than the children themselves.  Orphans who have runaway because they don't want to stay with a mean, old grandfather they've never met.  They stumble across an old boxcar and set up house in there, which is a lot of fun seeing how these children work so diligently to create a simple home for themselves.  The writing style throughout the series is also very high interest while keeping to a simple 3rd grade reading level.  I honestly can't remember the stories of any of the other books offhand but I do especially love this first book as it is the only one of the series to be illustrated by L. Kate Deal in stunning silhouette art.  One can tell the story takes place long ago with the girls in dresses and kerchiefs and the boys in short pants and long stockings but the darkness and absence of detail leave much to the imagination.  Even if you have no intention on reading the series as a whole, "The Boxcar Children" itself is a modern classic to be enjoyed by all.


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