Monday, October 4, 2010

The Boxcar Children - Gertrude Chandler Warner

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

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are orphans.  Determined to make it on their own, they set out to find a safe place to live. 

They discover an old, red boxcar that provides shelter from a storm.  Against all odds, they make it into their home--and become The Boxcar Children(Summary from book cover - Image from

My Review:  My mother-in-law recommended this book to me as one that was read to her when she was little, and as one she read to my husband when he was young. I’d never read it before, but I’m a sucker for tradition and so, as soon as they would let me, I read The Boxcar Children to my kids.
My girls (ages four and six) loved it so much that they actually begged me to read it to them at times other than bedtime.  I obliged and my four year old happily listened, but my six year old was enthralled in the story. She said she dreamed about it every night and I’m sure that if we could somehow build a boxcar in our backyard, she would be the happiest person this side of the solar system. I’m fairly certain she’s been downstairs drafting plans.

I thought this book was a wonderful read-aloud book for children but a slightly mind-numbing read for an adult, complete with grand leaps of logic and oversimplified text. (A lot of early reader kids books are like that, so I realize it’s probably too much to expect something that will retain my interest and theirs at this point.)  I appreciated that the story wasn’t bogged down by too much detail, which can sometimes be difficult for little minds to absorb. The characters emotions and actions were always clearly stated and the story constantly moved in imaginative ways. Consequently, my kids didn’t get confused, could follow the story easily, and it stuck with them after the final page. I’m sure that The Boxcar Children will factor into their imaginary play* for some time to come.

My Rating: 4 Stars (The adult in me wanted to rate this lower because it was so childlike, but my kids just loved it so much that I’m going to let it slide.)

Sum it up: An easy and imaginative read-aloud story for your early readers.

*Lacking the funds to build an adequate boxcar, I did manage to persuade both girls that the bottom bunk of their bunk bed, complete with a hung bedspread front, would suffice and they happily played inside with their stuffed dog "Watch", making an eating area, a sleeping area, and raiding the “dump” (aka. the toy box) for dishes.


TisforTonya said...

I hadn't read this as a child but used the first in the series this past year with a group of low readers. All girls. They loved it... we finished a few weeks before the end of school and I was pleasant surprised to find that two of the girls had gotten the second book at the library to keep reading on their own. Myself - not much excitement... but you can't argue with anything that makes kids want to read!

Monica said...

My daughter fell in love with the Boxcar series when she was about 6 and still loves to find new ones at the library. As a child book goes, the Boxcar Children books are fun mysteries that are perfectly written for the target audience. Short chapters also make it great for a bedtime read-out-loud.


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