Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #65

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.

#65 The Cereal Box Mystery: It’s just a normal day in Greenfield. The kids are out running errands, because apparently their housekeeper can’t go to the grocery store so she sends four kids with bikes to get their food. Benny is obsessed with a sugary cereal ‘Silver Frosted Stars’ and the stars that come inside the box, because if he collects enough of them, he can get a detective’s badge. So the kids buy three boxes and Benny opens one right away to start looking.

But we can’t just have a normal day in Greenfield. After they get the groceries, they see a thief running out of the local jewelry store who knocks their bikes over. He stole a very valuable cabochon ruby jewelry set. There are three witnesses to the crime: the store owner, a man looking for an engagement ring, and a woman who tries to stop the thief at the door. With no leads, the kids are on the case.

That night, the Alden’s home is broken into, and the only thing missing is one of the boxes of Frosted Silver Stars. When everyone has a big bowl of it in the morning from the opened box, Benny finds a special prize: a couple of pretty rings which he gives to his sisters. I’m sure you can see where this is going.

The kids investigate the case of the missing jewelry while they continue to be targeted at home by someone going through their trash, and grabbing another box of Frosted Silver Stars from their boxcar. They finally put two and two together and realize that Violet’s ring is a cabochon ruby, the thief slipped it into the cereal box when he ran from the store, and has been trying to steal it back ever since. But where’s the rest of the set?

It turns out that the woman who tried to stop the thief is actually a black belt in karate, so not only did she not stop him as she could have, they deduce that he slipped the jewelry to her. The kids set up a trap with the police to catch the two thieves red handed and save the day again. And Benny finds enough stars to get his detective badge.

I mostly remembered this one, it’s a pretty decent mystery as far as kids solving mysteries go. One thing I just don’t understand is why the thieves kept grabbing any box of cereal they could find. He slipped it into an open box but then stole a new sealed box. So he realized exactly what brand of cereal he stashed it in, but not the fact that it was already opened? Also, immediately following the robbery the woman accomplice offered to throw away the opened box for them, thinking it was damaged. It isn’t clear if she knew at that point that is where he stashed it. That would have been a very different story if the box ended up in the trash without anyone finding the ring.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #64

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.

What We Missed: The Soccer Mystery, The Growling Bear Mystery, The Mystery of the Lake Monster, and The Mystery at Peacock Hall Apparently the Aldens join a soccer team, visit Yellowstone, stay in a mountain lodge, and help yet another cousin with a mystery.

#64 The Black Pearl Mystery: In the bizarre perpetual summer that is their lives, the Alden kids are off on another vacation, this time to Hawaii. No lounging on beaches for them however, as they have another cousin in need of their help. Cousin Mary owns a pineapple plantation that is in dire need of business help. So the Aldens go with their grandfather in order to see how they can help, along with their other cousin Soo Lee, without her adoptive parents. Grandfather immediately leaves for another island… to take business meetings? It’s not quite clear. But he leaves the kids alone in Hawaii with his cousin where they are put to work picking pineapples.

No Boxcar Children book is complete without a cast of sneaky, sketchy characters. They first meet Mary’s manager, Joseph, who is friendly at first but becomes increasingly standoffish over the course of the book. There’s also the lady who runs another large plantation and a pineapple cannery, who wants to put Mary out of business. Lastly, there’s a strange couple who stay on the plantation with them, and always seem to be around when you don’t expect them. They claim to be looking at farms to purchase in the area, but do a poor job of actually pretending to do it.

The children learn of a story about a legendary black pearl that makes everyone clam up when they ask about it. Of course, this makes them want to know even more. They finally learn the story when they overhear Joseph telling the story to his grandchildren. Apparently it was a very valuable black pearl that was found, but brought bad luck to anyone who possessed it. It was then placed back into the ocean for five hundred moons, when it would then lose all of its bad luck. Apparently this legend happened approximately five hundred moons ago.

The Aldens go snorkeling just for fun, but they keep being warned away from the water, with their equipment getting stolen and false reports of shark warnings. It seems someone wants to keep them from looking for the pearl. They see something silvery in a cave underwater but are unable to reach it.

In the end, Joseph shows them a box containing a large black pearl. He had found it while diving where the children had been snorkeling and saw their treasure. The cannery woman claims the pearl as hers since it was found close to her property; she’d hired divers to find the pearl and tell everyone else that there were sharks. The mysterious couple had also been diving for the pearl, and they were the ones to steal the children’s snorkels.

Apparently Joseph had been the one in the legend to find the pearl in the first place, and he had given it to Mary’s husband but the bad luck had continued so it was placed back into the ocean. Mary and Joseph decided together to use the proceeds from the black pearl to help out the plantation.

I don’t have much to say about this one. It was a nice safe mystery where the kids didn’t actually do much sleuthing for once. All they wanted to do was enjoy Hawaii and help out with the plantation, and they ended up helping find the pearl anyway. It was one of the newer ones/last ones I bought, and I didn’t remember much about it at all. Overall, pretty forgettable.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #59

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.

#59 The Outer Space Mystery: Grandfather is assisting with a science conference at a small college, so of course the kids tag along. He’s friends with the president of the college, because of course he is, who asked him to moderate the conference. I don’t think these kids are ever going to get to college if they never go to school, which is what it seems like.

Astronomy is big at this school as they have a nice fancy observatory, which the kids are instantly fascinated by. They meet a student Mark who has a secret project he’s working on, along with another student who is always around to steal his thunder.

As is the case with these books, strange things start happening. Someone seems to be sabotaging Mark and his project. His notes go missing about the same time as a girl goes missing. Rachel had been acting strangely for a while, she worked as a waitress at the college and seemed overly nervous. She finally calls and says she’s staying with her grandparents and is alright, so people give up the search.

Mark presses on without his notes and finishes up the project, but discovers that someone switched out his papers for blank sheets. The kids suspect Eugene, his rival, and follow him to an abandoned cabin where they find Rachel, and Mark’s missing project. Eugene paid her to rewrite it so he could pass it off as his work.

Knowing he’s been found out, Eugene takes off, and Rachel goes with the kids to come clean. Mark gets to deliver his project on the fact that he found a new asteroid, which he wants to name after the Aldens.

I did not remember this book at all. I didn’t want Rachel to be guilty because it seems in these books that the most obvious suspect is never the right one, but this time it was. Overall, this one was pretty meh. We’re getting close to the end of the books I own and I’m almost ready for it.

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.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #57

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.

#57 The Mystery in San Francisco: The Aldens are back with their Aunt Jane and her husband Andy. They’re on business in San Francisco so the kids flew out to join them and have an adventure.

Their aunt and uncle have a friend who owns a fishing boat, so when the kids start hanging around to learn about the fishing industry, of course things start to go wrong. The restaurant the fisherman Charlie supplies to complains of rotten fish, boats come untied and float away, and they see people on the dock in the middle of the night when they stay overnight on a boat. When the kids go out on a fishing expedition, they find that someone has taken the fuel and cut the radio wire.

While sightseeing around the city, the Aldens keep seeing a woman who looks just like Charlie’s assistant Kate but she denies ever being at those places or otherwise has an alibi. A second fishing trip results in finding the nets cut. Someone seems like they’re out to get Charlie, or at least ruin his fishing business. And the kids keep seeing a mysterious man hanging around the docks in a suit. What is going on?

Thanks to a broken lantern that Henry finds, proving one of the other fishermen was on the dock causing mischief, they identify the person responsible for all the issues. He’s a newer fisherman hoping to get an advantage. The mysterious man in the suit is a private investigator hired to figure out who was causing trouble, and Kate’s lookalike is her twin sister, working with him. So the Aldens spend another vacation solving a mystery.

This one was interesting simply because I’ve visited San Francisco a number of times myself, so I was familiar with a lot of the places they visit like Pier 39. One thing I found hard to believe was the fact that the kids’ aunt and uncle were renting a house on Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. Those houses are worth millions of dollars these days.

Overall this was a fun one, I like when they visit places that exist in real life and you learn a bit about real places. I learned that Alcatraz means pelicans, which were the first residents of the prison island.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #56

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.

What We Missed: #55 The Mystery of the Secret Message, something about a missing statue and a mystery message hidden in a picture.

#56 The Firehouse Mystery: Benny finds an old firefighter’s helmet in the attic with Grandfather’s name on it and the kids find out he used to be a volunteer firefighter. Because he knows everyone in town, Grandfather takes them to the local firehouse where the kids get a tour and they find out that the town wants to tear it down to build a new one.

The Aldens have never met a cause they didn’t want to help with, so they immediately volunteer to spruce up the place and make people change their minds. Because a coat of paint and some plants will negate the fact that the garage can’t fit modern firetrucks…

But because this is a Boxcar Children mystery, someone wants to thwart their plans. They find the leftover paint kicked over into a messy puddle, and someone trampled their window box plants. Then, valuable trophies go missing along with the firehouse Dalmatian’s blanket.

Was it the woman who is behind the charge for tearing it down? Is it the architect she hired that really needs the job? Or is it the guy who has been sulking around, claiming to write a book on historic Greenfield buildings but hasn’t done any research?

All signs point to the architect since she comes into possession of their petition to stop the demolition, and she’s been really interested in the trophies. But the kids find a notebook with the prices listed for the trophies, and realize it belongs to the ‘writer’ and when he shows up, the dog finds her blanket in the back of his car, covering the trophies.

In the end, the firehouse is saved from being torn down: the architect comes up with a way to expand it to fit better firetrucks, with a locking case for the trophies and artifacts.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #54

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.

#54 The Hurricane Mystery: The kids are going on another working trip, this time to visit a friend of the family in Charleston who is repairing her home after a hurricane. When they get there, they immediately set to work on a mystery: where is Mrs. Ashleigh’s old gate, made by her ancestor? They assume it was blown away in the storm, but the kids locate it just a few minutes later in the yard of a neighbor and have it returned.

The story doesn’t end there, with constant problems with the gate. It’s unique but doesn’t seem particularly valuable, just being a wrought iron gate with a ship in the middle of it. They send it off to be repaired but they soon realize someone else is interested in it, going as far as damaging the remaining hinges one night and trying to break into the repair shop.

Some old plans the kids find while working on the house shed some light on the situation: the gate is hollow and was filled with gold. The kids hang it back up on the fence and lie in wait for the would-be thieves to strike again, but not before another hurricane blows through.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, they catch the thieves trying to make off with the gate again, as if the hurricane took it. It was the neighbor who originally found it after the first hurricane, who figured out the gold secret and wanted to sell it for cash. The gate ends up in a museum to keep it safe and Mrs. Ashleigh has a replica made to hang on her fence.

As far as plots go, this one was okay. There were a couple of interesting tidbits in the book though. In the beginning, as they’re bringing their dog Watch with them to the house, he is described as a black and white terrier. All throughout the series so far and in all illustrations, he seems to be pure black, kind of like this (photo borrowed from the internet, not mine):

kerryblueterrierdogpurebredmegan3

It’s an interesting change. Also, the kids state that their Grandfather found them after their parents died and they ran away to the boxcar. I can’t remember if it is ever explicitly mentioned that their parents died before, I know I’ve commented on this plot point before.