Happy Birthday Gertrude Chandler Warner! Although Gertrude Chandler Warner died at the age of 89 in 1978 her books still live on. Her series “The Boxcar Children” is still popular and is being continued by other authors, and has even been turned into graphic novels.
I remember when I discovered the Boxcar Children series. I found the Box Car Children, the first book in the series, at my local library and fell in love immediately. The book featured Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden, who had been orphaned and were running away from their grandfather because they thought that he was mean and wouldn’t like them. They find an abandoned box car and set up house in it, with Henry working odd jobs to get money for food and Jessie watching the children while Henry works. In the end they realized that their grandfather is a good person after he finds them and adopts them- and even lets them move their boxcar into his backyard!
The series continues with the Aldens finding a new mystery in every book. The books are well written and have continued in the spirit in which they were started, although they have been modernized a bit. I don’t believe that the children have aged much in the 100+ novels that have been written so far.
Children will like the mysteries that the Aldens investigate and will enjoy keeping an eye out for clues while reading- maybe they will solve the mystery before the Aldens do! They will also enjoy the fun locations that the Aldens get to visit, sometimes accompanied by their Grandfather Alden, their dog Watch or various friends and family members. Some of the locations have included a ski resort, pizza parlour, amusement park and even a desert island and a lot of detail is given about each place that they visit.
My favourite part of these books is that the characters are good role models- they are hardworking, independent, honest children who persevere and get the job done- without seeming snotty or coming across as goody goodies. This is a great series for the classroom or the home- kids, parents and teachers will love it.