Sunday, January 24, 2016

Boxcar Children 1

I don't know when the video reviews will go up on my channel, but I can still post them here on my blog, right?


For a long time now, people have been asking me to review The Boxcar Children Mystery series.

The first book begins with four runaway children stopping at a bakery. They buy some bread and ask if they can sleep here tonight, in exchange for doing the dishes and the sweeping. The woman at the bakery likes the idea of free child slaves, so she agrees to keep them all, except Benny. He's too young to do much work, so she's gonna put him in a children's home.

The kids decide they _can't_ be separated from Benny, so they run away again. They walk for two days straight, and when it starts raining in the woods, they take shelter inside an abandoned boxcar. They decide the boxcar is a nice place, so they're going to live there now. Forever.

The Boxcar Children!

We only get a little backstory for these kids. They're siblings. Henry and Jessie are the older ones, while Violet and Benny are the younger ones. They're orphans, and they're SUPPOSED to be living with their grandfather. But they ran away, because they're worried Grandpa might be mean, so...they'd rather be homeless than meet the guy. Not a good decision, Boxcar Children.

Jessie spends most of the book playing house with the two younger kids. She cooks food, teaches them how to read, and cleans up the boxcar with supplies she finds at the town dump. Jessie has the good sense to wash everything before using it, but still. They're eating off of plates they found in the garbage. It's kind gross.

Meanwhile, Henry goes into town and gets a job doing yardwork for a man named Dr. Moore. Dr. Moore is a nice guy, but he lives alone with his mother, in a a house with five empty bedrooms. What's the story behind THAT? Did he move in with mom, after getting his medical degree, or what?

Dr. Moore isn't an idiot, so it doesn't take him long to realize there are four kids living in a boxcar. Instead of calling the proper authorities, he decides to help the kids, by paying Henry lots of money and giving him a lot of free things, especially food.

Grandfather offers a $5,000 reward, for the return of the lost children. Dr. Moore decides to be sneaky, so he tells Henry to attend an event that Grandfather is sponsoring. Henry and his grandfather meet each other, but they don't know they're related. It turns out that Grandfather is a really nice guy, so there's no reason for the kids to be running away from him.

Things come to an end, when Violet catches a cold. Dr. Moore takes her to his house, so he can watch over her. Since there are FIVE extra rooms in the house, Dr. Moore invites all the Boxcar children and grandfather to stay there. They meet with each other and become friends, and eventually they realize that they're related.

The kids move in with Grandfather, who is super-rich and provides for their every need. He even moves the boxcar into the backyard of the house, so the kids can always remember the happy days when they were homeless.

The End

Post-Book Followup

Every book in the series has the first paragraph of this book written on the back.

One warm night four children stood in front of a bakery. No one knew them. No one knew where they had come from.

No one knows where the kids are from, because the book leaves out that information! Where DID they run from? I always guessed it was an orphanage, but why were they sent to an orphanage, when their rich grandfather is one day's walk away?

That's almost as weird as Dr. Moore purposely ignoring a $5,000 reward, in favor of letting some vulnerable kids be homeless. In 2015 dollars, that's about a $70,000 reward. Dr. Moore admits outright he would have kept the secret forever, if Violet hadn't gotten sick. Very responsible man, that Dr. Moore.

This review is short, because the book is short. It's got very large print, and it was designed for people learning to read English for the first time. That's why the kids have somewhat stilted, odd language. Of course, the book was originally written in 1924, which also explains some oddities with language and word choice. But that doesn't hurt the book at all. It's still easy to read and understand, even if it's older than the Great Gatsby.

Overall, I can see why the book is popular with kids. It's about kids living by themselves and having a really fun time, without any major problems. I give the Boxcar Children #1, The Boxcar Children, a 10 out of 10.


Katie said...

My daughter (8) loves this series!

Paul said...

There's a really cool one (much) later in the series where they investigate a mystery in a computer game, called The Mystery in the Computer Game: