Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #31 and 35

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.

#31 The Mystery of the Singing Ghost: It’s been a while since we’ve seen any of the kids’ relatives so here are their cousin Joe and his wife moving to town. They purchase a house that has been unoccupied for quite a long time, thanks to the rumors of the ghost haunting it. Celia Roth disappeared back in 1917 and no one knows what happened to her, but apparently her ghost lives in the house.

The Alden kids automatically volunteer to clean up the house for their cousins and get to work, despite all the creepy things that happen in the house. Doors slam shut, things like flowers and old dresses appear, and they hear singing in the house. Meanwhile, there are quite a few people who would like them to leave the house alone, including the neighbors. Each instance just makes them more determined to get to the bottom of it.

Of course, it was a neighbor pulling pranks because they wanted to buy the house themselves, and the kids track down Celia Roth, who is not dead, even though she was 17 when she disappeared and now she’s really old and we have no idea when this was set. Also, in the end, Violet says that they’ve had lots of adventures but she thinks this one is best. Really? As far as their mysteries go, this one was pretty tame.

What We Missed: #32 The Mystery in the Snow, #33 The Pizza Mystery, and #34 The Mystery Horse. The kids enter a winter sport competition but someone is sabotaging it, work in a pizza shop that is in danger of closing down, and solve the (attempted?) theft of a horse from a farm they’re working on.

#35 The Mystery at the Dog Show: Like the zoo one from last week, I remember this being one of my favorites! Clearly I really liked the ones revolving around animals. Grandfather has an old friend coming to stay with them so they can enter their golden retriever in Greenfield’s first annual dog show. Because that’s convenient. The kids tag along while we learn all about how dog shows work.

They immediately help out an old woman who has lost her assistant and she hands over her three prize-winning beagles to this group of kids she just met to go for a walk. Strange things start happening at the dog show, someone clips a poodle so that it looks too bad to compete, and a cat is released during the show so that all of the dogs are distracted. Then Sunny, their friend’s golden retriever, goes missing.

The kids find the dog at their vet when they have to take their own dog to get shots, and the vet describes the person who dropped the dog off. They figure out who has been sabotaging the dog show, and when he is called out, he gets disqualified and banned. Sunny wins best in show and everyone is happy.

I still like this one. It has high enough stakes to be interesting and believable as a mystery but not high enough so that you’re like ‘you dumb kids, call the cops.’ Plus the large cast of unique dogs is fun to read about.

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