Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Even today, Gertrude Chandler Warner's classic Depression-era story of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden -- four hungry children who transform an abandoned boxcar into a home -- fascinates us because, regardless of age, we all long to be on our own. This 60th Anniversary Edition of Warner's classic sports a bright new cover and many new features but retains L. Kate Deal's original silhouettes.

My thoughts:
This was one of my favorite books when I was in elementary school.  My mom found this 60th anniversary copy at a sale somewhere and bought it for me to read with my own children.  Last night we finished reading it together, but I have a feeling they may read it to themselves at some point as well.  It really is a book that holds up well, I had no idea when I read it years ago long ago it was written.  I can't recall if I read any of the other books in the series or just the first one, but I may check them out with my children.

Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny work together to create a place to live, have enough food and complete chores without having an adult caretaker.  Their parents have died and they believe that their grandfather is a grumpy man that they don't want to live with.  They find an abandoned boxcar and transform it into a house, find dishes and other useful items at the dump, create a swimming hole by damming a portion of a creek, and Henry finds a doctor to do odd jobs for for money.  The children all pitch in and work together and there is an absence of fighting.  Would children who were working together to survive really not fight or is that just how the author wrote the book.

I remember how this book captured my imagination and made me want to be one of the Boxcar children.  It was a nice daydream.  I recall writing my own story about the children.  I have no idea what ever happened to that story, my guess would be that it was thrown away or lost, but who knows, it could still be packed away in a box somewhere!  Gertrude Chandler Warner worked as a first and third grade teacher for years and even worked with publishers to develop book series that were able to hook reluctant readers and were simple enough to present few problems.  If you've never read it before I definitely recommend it as a step back to a simpler time.

Product Details
Library Binding: 163 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company; 60 Anv edition (September 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807508489
ISBN-13: 978-0807508480


  1. I keep thinking I need to read this series of books and reading your review has reaffirmed that for me.

  2. This is a series I haven't thought of in a while. I'm wondering if my son would like them. I guess there is only one way to find out. Thanks for the review and the reminder.