Copyright 1942.

Four young children Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny are recently orphaned after their parents die. They go to a bakery looking for food. They offer to work for the food but soon have to flee when it becomes apparent the old couple who run the bakery plan to use them as slave labor and take the youngest to the orphanage. While fleeing in the country they come on an abandoned boxcar and use it for shelter from an approaching storm. After the storm they decide to live in the abandoned boxcar. They dam up the stream for a pool to bath in. They scrounge in the dumb for old plates and stuff to build furniture. They build a stove. The older brother Henry gets a job doing odd jobs from a kindly old doctor who still lives with his mother. They also find a dog and name him Watch. Life is idyllic for the young children until one of them gets ill and they must risk the adults finding out about them.

I guess I’m getting a bit nostalgic for the old books of my childhood. This book was read to us from first to fifth grade and I always enjoyed it. There is something cool about living in an abandoned boxcar when your a child. This book always did make me want to do just that. A spoiler is there is a happy ending. They find their grandfather who isn’t a mean man but very kindly. Also a loaded guy for he lives in a mansion and can afford to bring the old boxcar to his home for the kids to play in. This book does strike a nerve with most children for it was a highly popular book. What I didn’t know is that there is a whole series where the kids graduated to solving mysteries. It’s popularity lead the author to write nineteen books in the series until her death in 1979. The series continues to this day and there are hundreds of Boxcar Children mystery books written by many different authors. An idea that lives on to this day.


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