51w4wydpxdl_sl500_bo2204203200_aa219_pisitb-sticker-dp-arrowtopright-24-23_sh20_ou01_1The Boxcar Children

By Gertrude Chandler Warner

1942, 2002 Published by Albert Whitman & Co.


Now that I’m retired and have plenty of reading time, I thought it would be fun to go back and visit all those books that stand out in my memory. Are they still as exciting as I remember? Will the book still take me to that magical adventure-land that I remember? Are the characters still my friends? And, are the books still available?

The Boxcar Children is one of the first books I remember reading all by myself. (The Dick and Jane books don’t count.) In looking for this book I discovered a 60th Anniversary Edition was published. Oh my, is it really 60 years since I read this book? The anniversary edition includes the original book plus a section on the author, including a photo album.

The story is about four recently orphaned children. They are on the run because they don’t want to live with their grandfather. They’ve never met him yet believe he is “mean”. So they travel by night and sleep during the day. They discover an abandoned boxcar and set about creating a simple home with various items they find. The oldest boy walks into the nearest town to buy food and also finds a job doing odd jobs for the local doctor.

The four children are people I still remember: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny. Their ability to perform all sorts of adult tasks is remarkable. After all these years I still felt the childlike sense of adventure of “playing house”. I won’t spoil your enjoyment of the book other than to assure you the children have lots of fun and there is a happy ending.

The book is probably suitable for children 8 to 10, although it could be read to younger children. On my second read as an adult I couldn’t help but worry about the safety of the four children. But my childhood world of the 1940’s as reflected in this book was quite different from today’s world. When I’m with my grandchildren now, I don’t take my eyes off of them. But don’t let that stop you from sharing this sweet story with children in your life. Our children today are quite savvy and in fact, this book could lead to a calm discussion about the differences between today’s play and the Boxcar Children. And, if you don’t have children to read to, read it to yourself. I’m betting it will take you back to the old days of imaginative play.