Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #48 and 49

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: #47 The Mystery of the Hot Air Balloon. No info about it, but apparently a hot air balloon lands in their yard. Cool?

#48 The Mystery Bookstore: This one isn’t about a haunted bookstore, the mystery part is that the bookstore was bought by a mystery writer who wants to turn it into a mystery bookstore. The kids are in New Orleans with Grandfather, at an auction where a bookstore is going up for sale. His friend, the mystery writer, lives there and wants to buy the store. There’s a bidding war and she eventually can’t afford it, but Grandfather steps in and purchases the bookstore, leasing it to her until she can pay him back.

Several other people are interested in the store, or maybe just the books in it. Rumor has it that the old owner had some valuable stamps hidden away in one of the books. As the kids help the new owner clean out the store and set up a book sale (as they do), they try to solve the mystery of who keeps breaking into the store and what all these suspicious characters are up to.

Turns out the valuable stamp was (of course) in the book set that Violet was given, and she gave it back to the store owner to sell and get her business off the ground.

Any book that has to do with books is an automatic winner for me, and this was always one of my favorites. It was an interesting plot and the kids act more like kids, with their detective work overseen by the mystery writer, who gives them tips on sleuthing. I also really like the cover of this one with the subtle placement of Boxcar Children books in the background.

#49 The Mystery of the Stolen Boxcar: It’s Founder’s Day in Greenfield and the kids are super excited for it. They have the brilliant idea of fixing up the old boxcar they used to live in and ride in it for the parade.

When their boxcar is featured in the paper, it brings a bunch of crazies out of the woodwork. First, a train collector offers to buy it very aggressively. Then, a man wants to purchase it so a senator can use it for her re-election tour. A small girl throws a fit because she wants the boxcar as a playhouse.

When the boxcar goes missing out of their backyard, they have a few suspects. They have a bigger problem though, their dog Watch is missing too! They figure out that he was in the boxcar and whoever stole it shut him inside. Luckily, he finds his way home after a day or so.

The kids question the train collector, who doesn’t seem to know anything about it. They try to track down the senator’s assistant, only to find out he’s been fired and the senator knows nothing about a boxcar.

When they run into the bratty child again, she’s going on about her new playhouse and doesn’t seem to like Watch. The kids put two and two together and find their way to their house. The senator’s assistant stole the boxcar to sell to the girl’s rich father to make some quick money. Everything gets straightened out and the kids get to ride the boxcar in the parade.

Something about this book seemed off, especially in the beginning of the book. It was like they got a new ghostwriter who had only read the first book and had a cheat sheet for all other characters and events. The writing is generally for elementary school, so it’s always simple, but it seemed more simple than usual. Also, their cousin Soo Lee was featured again, and this time she only lives a few minutes away from them, when before she lived in a town outside of Greenfield, or on the outskirts of Greenfield. No one has figured out where their family lives yet, despite the fact that there was a book heavily featuring their house.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #45 and 46

Hello all! This series has taken a bit of a hiatus, mainly because I just haven’t been in the mood to read for a bit, and for a while my books weren’t all that accessible. We were painting the trim in the office and my bookshelf had to be moved, and a lot of the books had to come off and be stacked on the floor. But now it is painted and everything is back neat and orderly.

You may remember my collection looking like this:img_0804

 

We bought a bookshelf just for all of my childhood books, and they filled it up. Ta da, after shot:

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I won’t be reviewing all of these, but there are a lot of series and older books I used to love that I’d like to get to. Shout out if you recognize anything and want me to review it! The bookshelf to the left holds all of my ‘adult’ books like Outlander, Laurie R. King and Karen Rose, as well as my L. M. Montgomery collection, and I have one more to the left of that one that holds mainly nonfiction books.

Now on to your regularly scheduled post.

We last left off on books #42 and 43, about a missing cat and a stage production.

What We Missed: #44 The Dinosaur Mystery, in which the children work in a natural history museum and someone apparently steals dino bones.

#45 The Mystery of the Stolen Music: A prestigious orchestra is in town, because of course, and you know all kids love classical music. Violet is interested because she plays violin, and Grandfather knows people at the orchestra so he makes introductions. The big attraction besides the music is that they are touring with a piece of original Mozart sheet music. But of course it goes missing.

The kids have their suspects, so they quickly get to the bottom of it after some false leads, and figure out who took the music, the orchestra manager who is upset about being taken for granted. Violet gets to play in the children’s orchestra and impresses the first chair violinist of the big orchestra. Their cousin Soo Lee shows up again with a convenient interest in also playing the violin.

This was never one of my favorites growing up, it was just one of the series that I read on my way through it. I didn’t remember much about it.

#46 The Chocolate Sundae Mystery: The kids’ favorite ice cream parlor has been sold to a new owner, and it’s having problems. The old employees quit, and the new ones seem to be pretty incompetent. The kids chip in immediately and get jobs there, but things start going wrong for real. Entire tubs of ice cream are going missing along with sauces and parfait glasses, the whipped cream goes bad, and someone even smashes the big picture window in front, from the inside.

Everything points to the owner of the new neighborhood ice cream truck being behind it all, but that would be too easy. Who is behind all of the problems and are they trying to sabotage the ice cream parlor? Nope, just one of the new employees feeding his friends who don’t get much to eat. Because in a shop that also sells sandwiches, the kids’ one meal a day should be ice cream sundaes.

I liked this one growing up but I didn’t remember it much at all like who was behind the problems. One thing that bothers me is the missing parfait glasses. The boys being fed confess to dropping them on the sidewalk, but why were they taking them home in the first place? Also, check out those giant servings of ice cream on the cover, a bit much don’t you think? Especially Benny with his banana split all to himself.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #42 and 43

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 Ghost Ship Mystery, The Canoe Trip Mystery, The Mystery of the Hidden Beach. The kids solve a mystery about a shipwreck, go on a canoe trip with their Aunt Jane, and solve a mystery about a damaged coral reef.

#42 The Mystery of the Missing Cat: A friend of Grandfather Alden works for a reclusive man who recently lost his cat Spotzie. The kids volunteer to find the cat, but they hit obstacles at every turn. A woman who has dozens of cats thinks she’s found it, but it’s not the right cat. The kids get calls from someone else who is looking for an identical cat, and a cat collector brushes them off because the cat isn’t purebred.

Turns out the man who wanted the identical cat was hired by the cat collector to steal Spotzie, but lost her, so he wanted to take her if the kids found her. The kids foil their plan and return Spotzie to her rightful owner, who also takes in the identical cat as well.

This was the first book I read in this throwback round that featured the kids’ cousin Soo Lee, adopted by Joe and Alice. This book also had an error stating Benny’s age as five. I remember liking this one, as it had to do with animals. It’s strange that there were two ‘crazy cat people’ in their town with dozens of cats each.

#43 The Mystery on Stage: The town is putting on The Wizard of Oz at the community center and Jessie wants to try out for Dorothy. Because the kids always do things together, they all go down and volunteer for the show, including their dog Watch, cousin Soo Lee and their housekeeper Mrs. MacGregor. Jessie gets the part of the Cowardly Lion, Henry helps with production and sets, Violet helps with costumes, and Benny and Soo Lee are gofers.

As things do, things go wrong and someone is trying to sabotage the show. Sets are vandalized, costumes are destroyed, things go missing, and their Dorothy is constantly late or leaving early and acting strange. The night before opening, one of the lights crashes down on the stage.

The kids catch a man removing some of the electricity fuses on opening night, and it turns out it’s Dorothy’s father, who doesn’t want his daughter to act. The play goes off without a hitch and he is proud of her.

Benny is back to being six, but the error this time around is stating that Soo Lee lives with Joe and Alice in a town outside of Greenfield, where they live, when just the book before stated that they lived on the outskirts of Greenfield. I guess you can’t expect however many ghostwriters they have to get everything right. I remembered a lot more of this book except who was causing the trouble.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #36 and 38

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.

#36 The Castle Mystery: I did not remember this one at all until I started reading, and even then I couldn’t remember what the mystery was or ‘whodunnit’. Grandfather Alden knows people who are renovating an old castle from a home into a museum when the last owner died, so he volunteers the kids to help with the work. (Can you imagine these kids’ resumes? Their volunteer work alone would fill pages.) They arrive and the only one there who is happy to see them is the woman in charge. The old caretaker is unhappy the house will be turned into a museum, the assistant renovator is acting strange, and the antiques expert (named Tom Brady, lol) doesn’t seem to want a bunch of kids handling priceless artifacts.

Strange things start happening like the kids seeing a light in the opposite tower from their room that is supposedly closed off, people are always where they shouldn’t be, and the girls even get locked into the cave underneath the castle while on a scavenger hunt. Also, everyone is on the hunt for a rare Stradivarius violin that the previous owner had.

A hidden room revealed by a spinning wall unlocks the key to the mystery when they find out Tom Brady found the violin and was planning on selling it, and he was responsible for most of the problems. The old caretaker was just a grumpy old man who had to warm up to the kids, and the renovator’s assistant actually lived in the castle as a child and was poking around for her old things.

What We Missed: #37 The Mystery of the Lost Village. The kids stay on an Indian reservation and do some archaeology.

#38 The Mystery of the Purple Pool: The kids are off to New York City with their grandfather! He has business meetings to go to, so the kids are free to explore the city on their own. Except, as it always happens, a mystery shows up at the same time they do. First, their hotel reservation has been mysteriously cancelled and there are no bellhops to be found. Then they go for a swim and find the pool has been dyed purple. Other shenanigans happen like the salt and the sugar being switched in the cafe, and things disappearing from the guests’ rooms like towels and room phones.

They have a few suspects, as usual. There’s a suspicious maid who the kids overhear plotting something, and a woman who always seems to be around when there’s trouble, writing in a notebook. Plus, there’s a strange man who goes around in a trench coat and hat.

The Aldens do take some time to sightsee in New York though. They even bring along a young boy they met in the hotel. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d send my son out into New York City with a group of other kids I barely know. They return to the hotel and their elevator gets stuck, which they come to find out was just temporarily switched off.

In the end, it was the assistant manager, who wanted to take over and thought he could push the manager out if enough things went wrong. The maid just wanted her brother hired back, he was fired by the assistant manager because he would figure out what was going wrong. The suspicious woman was writing a travel article about the hotel, and the man in a trench coat was a famous actor just wanting to hide from his fans.

 

 

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.

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.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #21 and 22

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: #20 The Haunted Cabin Mystery. Apparently the kids take a paddleboat to go visit someone who lives in a cabin and scary things happen.

Starting with #20, these books are no longer written by the original author. It’s interesting to see the switch and what they changed, which I’ll talk about more in each review.

#21 The Deserted Library Mystery: Seeing as I love books, I was surprised that I didn’t really remember this one. There’s a library that’s been abandoned and their grandfather wants it turned into a historical site, so he volunteers the kids to go live in a friend’s summer home and fix up the library. A group of kids, 5, 10, 12 and 14. By themselves. But okay.

While cleaning up, they find a couple of parts to an old Civil War sword, so Henry calls their grandfather to tell him about it, in a diner with people around. Surprise, they start getting unwanted visitors in the library when they’re not there, someone’s looking for the sword. They also find a boy in the library who stole part of their lunch, he’s hiding out because his father may have been lost at sea and he doesn’t want to be sent away. He pitches in to help the kids clean and they still find evidence of an intruder, who starts creeping around the house they’re staying in too, trying to scare them off. Jessie has a run-in with him and hears someone humming a strange tune.

When their grandfather comes to town to see the progress and find the boy’s father who had been rescued from his boat accident (because of course), Jessie hears the tune again while they’re celebrating in the diner, and they turn the intruder over to the sheriff. Turns out he’s been robbing every place in town.

The library is preserved, and the sword ends up in a museum in Boston called the ‘Boston Museum’. Being from the area, pretty sure that’s not a thing, but I guess I’ll give it a pass for being fiction. Why not the Smithsonian or somewhere like that though?

#22 The Animal Shelter Mystery: I remember this one a lot more, it was probably one I read the most. The kids are at home when they find a cat on their porch with a note that says the owner needed a home for the cat and thought they’d be best. They make it their mission in life to find the cat’s owner and figure out why they were getting rid of their pet. They find out the cat belongs to an old woman who has gone missing, there are strange men at her house that don’t want the kids around.

The kids are currently volunteering at the animal shelter for the summer and find out that the founder is shutting it down unexpectedly. More and more animals keep popping up that belonged to the old woman as well. The kids decide to take in some animals from the shelter, making a makeshift shelter in their old boxcar. This was always my favorite part, I loved the idea of running my own shelter and the way they set up an office in their garage.

They find an old deed that shows the old woman’s house and the land the shelter was on both belonged to her father, and conveniently, the land is about to be up for sale because the deed was never filed. The old woman shows up at the boxcar to see her old pets and the kids inform her of the deed. Their grandfather rushes to town hall to file the deed and her father’s will, proving she still owns the land. Her house and the shelter are saved, and they find out she was the mysterious founder of the shelter.

 

So we’ve essentially started over once the new authors took over. The kids are young again, and it seems like they didn’t even read any of the books other than the first one. The kitten Violet receives in book 16 is not mentioned at all, they act like they don’t own a cat when the strange one turns up at their house. The lack of continuity is pretty disappointing.