*Note, while I will try to avoid major spoilers, I sometimes won't be able to help it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner

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

My second grade teacher read Gertrude Chandler Warner's The Boxcar Children to my class early on in the school year.  How I loved this book series as a child.  I recently re-read the first in the series in anticipation of Patricia MacLachlan's prequel, The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm.  I don't think I have picked up one of these books since I was in elementary school.  I had forgotten how simple the first book was.  It references things like a horse and carriage and other "old time" technology.  I had to laugh at this as I was looking at the list of other titles in the series and came across The Boxcar Children and the Mystery in the Computer Game.  These children really are timeless.

As a child (and even more so as an adult), I was in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods.  I loved the wonderfully crafted descriptions of how they prepared the food.  The Boxcar Children has the same effect.  Even though the food is simple- bread and butter, stew, even just water, it all sounds so delicious!  Sure the first book is a little unbelievable.  It's seem unlikely that four children would be able to run away from home after the passing of their parents and hide in the woods so as to not fall into the custody of their grandfather.  But these books are so well written that you go along on this journey with Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny and never question how they managed to run away or how it is possible that they make it on their own for so long.  

When recommending this book, I always explain the difference between the first two books and rest of the series.  It all starts with the four children learning to care for themselves, whether it be cooking, clothing, or washing.  They go on very simple adventures that are really a lot of fun.  After these two books is when the mystery element comes into place.  In a way it almost feels as though they are two sets of books.  If you are into mysteries feel free to skip to first two books.  But if you want a (somewhat) more modernized Little House set of books, then read the first two.  Both sets of books are abasoulty wonderful and are yet more books I feel that every child should have the opportunity to read.  I am so excited to get my hands on a copy of the prequel and will let you know how it is (hopefully) soon.

Happy Reading!

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