Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Boxcar Children 6: Blue Bay Mystery

In Blue Bay Mystery, the Swiss Family Robinson--the Boxcar Children live on an abandoned island in Tahiti. The entire thing is Grandfather's idea, of course. He thought of it, after talking to his sailor friend, Lars Larson. I think the conversation went like this:

Grandfather: Lars! I haven't seen you in a while!
Lars: That's because I got marooned on a deserted island for six months. My therapist says--
Grandfather: Wow, an island? That sounds like the best vacation ever!
Lars: What? No! It was awful! I thought I'd die without seeing another human being!
Grandfather: We should go there right away! You can be our tour guide.

*theme*

For the first time ever, Grandfather is going to join the kids on their vacation adventure. Mike is coming along too, although he's not important enough to be on the cover. No one else is coming along, because obviously, the other Boxcar Children don't have friends, and nobody remembers Cousin Joe from the earlier books.

On the trip, the Boxcar Children have lots of fun, doing their homework. They have even more fun, when they pack food supplies. These kids are easily entertained. Lars built two huts, the last time he was on the island. Not sure why, since he was marooned by himself, but whatever. They set up camp in the huts, and...MYSTERY!

Someone steals their crackers! Someone made a picture with rocks, and there's a button on the ground. No doubt about it: there is someone else on the island. Dun dun dun.

The next few chapters are about making fish stew, and swimming around and having fun, and why isn't anyone looking for the other person on the island?! Seriously! You're okay with having a stranger watch you from the trees, all the time?!

After a few weeks, the Boxcar Children finally decide to visit the other side of the island. They climb a mountain, where they discover a cave which looks just like their boxcar. Every detail is exact, down to the placement of Benny's cup. Freaky...

Benny sees the stranger in the trees. He chases after the stranger, and the stranger leads him directly into a pit. Now that Benny is helpless, the stranger reveals himself. He's Peter Horn, a ten-year-old boy! Peter was shipwrecked on the island seven months ago, and has been living here ever since.

Benny and Peter become best friends forever, and Benny instantly forgives all of Peter's weird behavior, like the weeks of spying and leading Benny into a trap. Totally normal behavior! Peter explains that he stayed away, in order to create a mystery--I mean, because he wasn't sure if it was safe to talk to the others.

As for the shrine to the boxcar, Peter built that! He read about the Boxcar Children, so he modeled his island home after their book. That's...um...wow. Unbelievable coincidence, there. Henry wisely orders Benny not to tell him who they really are.

Peter makes friends with the others, and on the way back home, Grandfather uses the ship's radio to locate Peter's parents. The family is reunited, and it's a happy ending.

The End

Post-Book Followup

Here's a question. There are two huts on the island. Why didn't Peter decide to live there? That would have been a lot easier than making a shrine to the Boxcar Children. I'm surprised the children weren't creeped out by the weird shrine to them, built halfway around the world.

The premise of the series is that the Boxcar Children are curious, inquisitive and self-reliant, which is how they discover and solve mysteries. That's not the case in this book. They always do whatever Grandfather tells them to do, without questioning. They don't bother to explore the island until the end of the book. Lars and Grandpa make all the decisions about where they go, when they eat, and the kids just go along with it.

I've made this complaint before. In Book 1, it was interesting to see the kids take care of themselves. In Book 3, it wasn't as interesting, because there was an adult who took care of all those things for them. In this book, we've got two adults who serve as the Boxcar Children's tour guides. It totally ruins the survival genre, when you've got Robinson Crusoe giving you pointers on what to do, every four paragraphs.

This book feels like a throwback to the earlier books, because it's about the kids living on their own, as opposed to the kids solving mysteries. The mystery wasn't very good, but at least they tried to mention the mysterious stranger in every chapter. That's loads better than other books which introduce the mystery, then completely ignore it in favor of cooking or other stuff.

I give Boxcar Children #6, Blue Bay Mystery, a 7 out of 10.

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