odds and ends: the boxcar children, tumblr

Elliot and I started reading his first chapter book this week, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

I was a voracious fan of these books as a kid. For those who have never read, The Boxcar Children are Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny- four orphans with remarkable self-reliance. In the first book of the series, they take up residence in an abandoned boxcar rather than live with their presumedly awful grandfather. All ends happily and the four children continue to have adventures across 19 of the original novels (all penned by Warner) and over 100 subsequent books (all written after Warner’s death in 1979).

In later books, Warner would shift the focus toward the four kids being amateur mystery-solvers, in the vein of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys… but she always stayed true to the gentle wish fulfillment of the first novel in the series, namely these four children being able to take care of themselves pretty handily with very little adult assistance.

Elliot LOVES the book- we’ve almost finished the first one and I have the second in the series, Surprise Island, on reserve at the library. I’m glad this aspect of my childhood holds up for him… so much of the stuff I loved as a kid doesn’t. I’m interested to see how he’ll respond to the gradual change the series undertakes to being firmly rooted in the “kid mystery” genre.

It’s funny to me; the majority of books I devoured as a young reader took place in an extremely idealized version of the late 1950/early 1960’s. The later Boxcar Children books, the majority of Beverly Cleary’s output like the Henry Huggins series (although Cleary admirably honed in on the unsureness of middle class life in the later Ramona books), and even Encyclopedia Brown fit this mold.

Of course, I didn’t realize this at the time. I just enjoyed the stories… as well I should have, and as well my son is. It’s just interesting to look at, in retrospect.


Thought I’d quickly mention: I’ve started a Tumblr for the comic, which you can find and add to your daily reading if you so desire.


One Response to “odds and ends: the boxcar children, tumblr”

  1. Did a Garage Sale post not to long ago about finding The Boxcar Children books.


    They where my favorites as a child as well, or at least the originals where… The others didnt come until after I had moved on to “higher” reading levels…

    My daughter and I have deceided that we are going to read the whole stack that we have over the course of this summer. Chapter when we get up, chapter after lunch, chapter in the evening… and any extras she can talk me into!

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