Throwback Book Review: The Boxcar Children #1 and 2

Welcome to my very first throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

The first series is The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (and other authors down the line). This week I read books 1 and 2.

Series Thoughts: I got my first Boxcar Children book when I was probably around 7. I don’t remember the exact book I started with, but I want to say it was maybe number 17. My school had the famous Scholastic Book Club thing where you could order books and receive them a couple weeks later. I always ordered quite a few books every time, and I believe my first Boxcar Children book came from that.

These were an introduction to mystery novels for me, which I still love to this day. Like most kids, I loved how independent the children were, the thought of living on my own was so exciting. Now that I am though, it’s definitely not all it’s cracked up to be. There are things like bills, after all.


Book #1 The Boxcar Children: The book that started it all. We meet the four children, Henry (14), Jessie (12), Violet (10) and Benny (5). They’re running away because their parents are dead and they don’t want to live with their mean grandfather. The kids find an old abandoned boxcar in the woods and decide it will be their new home. They are very responsible and industrious children. Henry goes to get a job mowing lawns and other odd jobs for a doctor while Jessie takes care of the younger two and does all the cooking. The doctor knows their grandfather so after figuring out who the children are, he informs the grandfather who meets the children and they discover he’s not mean after all.

It isn’t known how the children’s parents died or how long they’ve been orphans, or anything about their lives before the book starts. Somehow they’re just very independent and smart and figure out how to dam up a pond, keep food cold, build things, and other various household tasks. The two older kids do all of these things and still manage to parent their younger siblings (who are perfectly behaved of course). It’s definitely an idyllic book that represents the time period it was written in (1924 for the first edition).

Book #2 Surprise Island: The kids are off on another adventure! Their grandfather owns a small island (because of course he does) so the kids spend the summer on it alone, being independent. Because that’s what they consider fun. They’re not totally alone though, the island is also home to a fisherman that mans the boat to the mainland, and a younger man who is staying with him, Joe the mysterious handyman.

They spend their summer exploring the island, making a museum out of things they find, and living off the land. There are no mysteries to solve just yet, besides the anticlimactic reveal that Joe is actually their long lost cousin that they had no idea existed.

This book was definitely not one of my favorites. Nothing really happened in it. I don’t remember it being quite so boring though, hopefully the series will improve as it goes on.

Did you read The Boxcar Children? What was your favorite series growing up? Let me know in the comments below. Also, should I read each series straight through or skip around to different book series each week? Let me know your thoughts!

2 thoughts on “Throwback Book Review: The Boxcar Children #1 and 2

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