The Boxcar Children

posted in: Books, Kid stuff, Reviews | 2

Addison and I just finished reading The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  I remember loving this book when I was little so when I saw it at a used book sale I knew I had to get it for him.  It is the story of 4 siblings whose parents are dead and for some reason they think their grandfather hates them so they are on the lamb.  Hey, $h!t happens, deal with it and that is exactly what these kids do.  They find an abandoned box car and decide that this is their life from now on.

(photo from The Petite Bookshelf)

After reading it again, a lot of years later, I realized why I loved it so much.  The kids get to “play house” in a box car.  They find cups and bowls at a dump, cook over an open fire in a little fireplace they made out of stones and use a waterfall in a brook as a refrigerator.  This brought back a flood of memories of me doing the exact same thing in our back yard when I was little.  A majority of our back yard was left wild with lots of low growing pinyon trees, cedar trees, shrubs and prickly pear cactus (one time my mom and I picked all the prickly pears and made jelly).  Inside one of these trees I made a little house.  I built a little fireplace and mantle out of bricks and boards found around the house and borrowed canned goods from the pantry to stock my own little pantry.  You never know when you might need a can of evaporated milk out in the wild.  I had a set of little blue and white speckled pots and pans and a coffee pot in order to entertain all my woodland guests.  My parents never let me light a fire in my fireplace despite my pleas to be safe.  hmph.  But it was always ready to go with lots of kindling just in case they changed their minds.

Anyhoo – I thought Addison would like this book because he is a closet train enthusiast.  What could be more fun and adventurous than living in an old boxcar?  I’m not sure he was as impressed as I was but he kept asking for another chapter so I guess he thought it wasn’t half bad.

One thing I loved about this book as an adult is how old-fashioned it is.  They use expressions like “Oh, oh!” and “fine” as in “This boxcar is a fine little house.”  Their grammar is impeccable and they make the best out of a bad situation.  No dishes to eat off of?  No problem, here’s a dump, lets go find some.  No bed to sleep on?  No problem, here’s a big pile of leaves, get comfy.  Nothing to eat?  Just go and work for a nice dr., take the scraps from his garden and be happy for it.  These kids have a “can do” attitude toward life.  No whining or complaining or “that’s not fair.”  It was refreshing and sweet.

Two grubby little thumbs up.

2 Responses

  1. I loved that book. It was so much better than the many modern sequels that are now out. The Boxcar Children #33 just doesn’t have a good ring to it. 🙂

    • I saw those sequels at the library recently and the children were sitting in front of a computer on the cover of one of them. It just didn’t seem right. 😉
      Thanks for reading!

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