Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #58

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.

#58 The Mystery at the Alamo: Right on the heels of their big trip to San Francisco, with no mention of it whatsoever, the kids and their grandfather take a trip to San Antonio to visit the Alamo, because their grandfather has a friend there. As always. Man this guy knows a lot of people. They are unable to take a tour of the Alamo because there’s a movie being shot on the premises, so they go over to watch.

The second they step foot on the set, the director hires the children to be extras, and asks them to recruit another boy as well, 14 year old Antonio, named after the city. The five children meet the cast and crew of the movie and don’t even get a chance to settle in before things start to go wrong.

Jessie is instructed to hand a bouquet of flowers to the leading lady Claire, who immediately starts sneezing because someone added ragweed to the bouquet. Violet identifies the offending plant and it is removed. In their next scene, the steps on the set break as Claire walks down them. Either she wants to be fired so she can return to LA, or someone has it out for her.

There are plenty of suspects, from her understudy who would love to take her part to the leading man who wants more lines. The children are determined to get to the bottom of it.

Things continue to go wrong every day, all geared to make Claire look bad. Finally, a ring is borrowed from the museum to be used in the movie, and it goes missing, resulting in the police being called and the movie in jeopardy of being shut down. The children have their suspicions, so they follow one of the actors, the leading man’s stand-in, to a diner where he discusses getting Claire fired with her agent, so she could go film another movie. Mystery solved.

I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I liked this one growing up because I was born in Texas, and we took a trip to the Alamo after I read it. I was really excited to see the ring featured in the book (I don’t remember if I actually did). I have questions about the movie they’re shooting. Why did they have to film it on location? Is it a fictional movie or a documentary? Because they state that Claire is playing a woman who was at the Alamo, and the man is playing Davy Crockett. But at some points in the movie filming, Claire is giving the children a tour of the Alamo museum and talking about the history. It’s a bit strange.

Also, this cover. First of all, that picture of the boys is going to suck if she’s taking it from that close up, and they’re not even looking at her. And what is up with that camera? This book was published in 1997, and I’ve never seen a modern camera that looks like that, it almost looks like a camcorder. Their grandfather takes the film to be developed in an hour as well, that camera doesn’t look modern enough to be able to do that.

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