Friday, June 2, 2017

The Boxcar Children: Great Adventure 1: Journey on a runaway train by Dee Garretson and JM Lee, illustrated by Anthony VanArsdale

The Boxcar Children franchise celebrates 75 years with a special five book adventure for the familiar characters. For those who missed the original story, there's a very brief recap; Henry, Jessie, Violet, Benny and their dog Watch ran away from what they thought was a mean grandfather. They lived in a boxcar until found. Then they started solving mysteries. Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote the first book and the next eighteen books. The series was continued to well over 100 titles.

In this introductory book, the four children discover that there are mysteries surrounding an old trunk. Why do so many people want it? What is the significance of the clay turtle that was somehow put in the trunk? The children find out that their grandfather's friends are part of a secret society that returns antiques and artifacts to museums and their rightful owners and go on an exciting journey in a real train to return the turtle. The book ends with the children starting a journey around the world to return various pieces.

The pictures are simple black and white images and don't add any contemporary details that will date the children. They solve various codes, visit the library to do research, and generally have fun with only minimal danger and frightening experiences. The text is a lower middle grade or upper beginning chapter book, depending on how you look at it, and comes in at about 140 pages, including bios of the characters, an excerpt from the next book in the series, and a brief biography of Warner.

While there are still plenty of Boxcar children fans around - they're simple mysteries that offer excitement and adventure without being too challenging for intermediate readers or frightening for sensitive kids - it's rare for a kid to actually make it through the entire series. I'm not sure if starting a new series will grab readers or not, but I think it very well might interest readers who enjoy mysteries, even if they haven't encountered Boxcar Children before.

Verdict: An additional purchase, sure to be popular if you have Boxcar Children or mystery fans.

ISBN: 9780807506967; Published 2017 by Albert Whitman; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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