Saturday, January 15, 2011

Watch the Dog is a Watchdog

The Boxcar Children

Written by: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Released: 1942

Summary: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, four orphaned brothers and sisters, suddenly appear in a small town. No one knows who these young wanderers are or where they have come from. Frightened to live with a grandfather they have never met, the children make a home for themselves in an abandoned red boxcar they discover in the woods. Henry, the oldest, goes to town to earn money and buy food and supplies.

Ambitious and resourceful, the plucky children make a happy life themselves--until Violet gets too sick for her brothers and sister to care for her.

I read this way, way back when I was first starting to read chapter books. It was The Boxcar Children – the series – and the Babysitter Little Sister books that kept me occupied for hours. So, imagine my surprise when I discovered this book on netGalley. I knew at once that I needed to re-read it.

I loved this book when I was young and I’m rather surprised that I don’t own a copy of my own. I could have sworn that I did, but upon further investigation of my bookshelf I couldn’t find a boxcar child anywhere. I’m thinking that my mum passed them along a few years back.

Reading this as an adult, I can still see why I fell in love with the characters and the story, but this time around I couldn’t stand Benny; I found him whiney and annoying. In fact, my favourite characters were Violet and Watch.

This is a series of books that promotes good manners and morals for kids, which I think is a fantastic thing to have in books for young readers. While I don’t think that I could sit down at my age and read the entire series, it was really nice to relive a bit of my childhood for an hour.

I would love to see this series revamped a little and with a more updated use of language. Unfortunately, I don’t think that in its original format that it would appeal to its set audience – not when they can read things like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Percy Jackson series. Still, this is a solid novel with a great series attached to it. I give it a 7/10.

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