Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #23 and 24

Welcome to my weekly 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.

#23 The Old Motel MysteryThe kids go with their Aunt Jane to visit her friend who owns a rundown motel in Florida. As usual, they’d rather spend their vacation fending for themselves instead of relaxing, so they stay in one of the rooms and tackle renovating the entire motel during their stay. They clean moss out of the pool, pick oranges, change bedspreads, help with roofing, you name it.

However, someone wants to sabotage their progress. Someone doesn’t seem to want the motel to prosper, and wants the owner to accept an offer a big chain made her. Someone dumps all the oranges they picked into the pool, steals paint, pours tar over new shingles, cuts power, and tries to flood their room.

They have a short suspect list: is it the handyman, who seems nice enough? Is it the student staying in one of the rooms? Or is it the older woman staying there who is always poking her nose where it doesn’t belong and has ties to the other hotel chain? I wonder…

I kind of remembered this book, but it didn’t stand out much. After rereading, I’m still pretty meh about it. What does stand out is the fact that the Aldens and their nosy neighbor are able to cook full meals and bake cookies in the kitchenette of a tiny motel. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen an oven in a hotel room of any kind short of a full resort with apartment-style rooms.

#24 The Mystery of the Hidden Painting: While looking in their own attic, they find a painting of their grandmother when she was much younger, and in it she’s wearing a special one-of-a-kind necklace that their grandfather had designed for her. Grandfather explains that the necklace was stolen a year after he gave it to her, so she put her own portrait in the attic to not be reminded of it. Since her death, he forgot it was even up there.

The kids are on the case, they’re going to find that necklace. By chance, they see a picture in the paper of a woman at an event and decide she’s wearing their grandmother’s necklace, despite it being a black and white blurry photo.

So they go on a chase to find the necklace. They talk to that woman who says that the necklace was borrowed from a local museum, who tells the kids that it was donated by a rich woman in town, who claims the necklace has always been hers. It eventually comes out that the woman’s son stole it from the Aldens when he worked as a caterer, and the necklace is returned.

I like the mysteries that revolve around their own life better. They seem a lot more real. I also like seeing a bit of their background. I wonder if any of the books actually tackle the topic of the children’s parents, who they were and how they died. None did that I can remember.

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