The Boxcar Children
By Gertrude Chandler Warner
Oh, the Boxcar Children. I read these when I was in elementary school, not even realizing that these books are waaaaaaay retro. 1941, to be exact. Warner originally dubbed these "the Alden Family Mysteries," but they have since been packaged as "The Boxcar Children." Though the other books in the series are mysteries, the first book is not really a mystery at all. It tells the story of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, four orphaned children who live in an abandonded boxcar in the woods. They believe their legal guardian, their grandfather, is a cruel man and they wish to fend for themselves in the woods rather than live with him. There really is no mystery in this first book, but it does develop the characters and set the stage for the rest of the series.
Of over 140 books, only the first nineteen in the series were written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, who died in 1979. All of the stories feature the four children as amature dectives, solving crimes whereever they go. I was surprised to learn that the original nineteen books are all set in the 1940's and 50's, with the children growing older over several years in time. However, the later books are set in the present day, with the children becoming frozen in time where they never get older (sort of like The Babysitter's Club, Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys). If you're feeling nostalgic, check one out today @ your library!
[Retro Book of the Week celebrates the oldies-but-goodies in our media center. Books with faded covers can still have modern appeal! Sometimes I just want to celebrate the books that have influenced YA literature and my literary past, and sometimes I want to give new life to timeless classics. These features will be heavy on books from the 80's and 90's.]