Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The Boxcar Children
A recent post by Luminiferous Ether reminded me of this series of books. I really enjoyed reading the first couple books back in grade school. I thought it would be cool to run away and live in a boxcar, especially when my parents would do mean things like make me clean my room, or wash the dishes! Plus, I lived by a busy railroad, so boxcars were readily available. The first book was published in 1942, with 19 written by the original author. More of the series were published by other authors, but always credited to the original author. I stole the summary of the first book for your enjoyment:
The first book tells the story of four children: Henry James Alden, 14; Jessie Alden, 12; Violet Alden, 10; Benny Alden, 4(and 6 in books not by Gertrude Chandler Warner); and their dog Watch. Upon the death of their mother and father, their grandfather assumes custody of the children, but they run away because they believe him to be cruel. Finding an abandoned boxcar, they start a new life of independence. A man named Dr. Moore, who lives in a nearby city, hires Henry to do jobs around his home, such as mowing the lawn and organizing his garage. With the help of Henry's income and living off the land, the children are able to take care of themselves until Violet becomes ill and they must go to Dr. Moore for assistance.
Earlier in the novel, Dr. Moore has read in the newspaper that a man named James Alden was offering a $5,000 reward for anyone who can locate his four lost grandchildren. When Violet is taken ill, Dr. Moore finally contacts James Alden, who arrives just after the children bring in Violet for treatment. Not wanting to frighten the children into running away again, their grandfather referred to himself as Mr. Henry (Henry being his middle name). Not knowing that the man was their "cruel" grandfather, the children warm to his kindness and are surprised but delighted when Dr. Moore reveals to them that he is their grandfather. After moving in with their grandfather, Mr. Alden moves the boxcar to his backyard for their enjoyment.