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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.…

The Boxcar Children (Series)

by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Overall Book Review:

Author Gertrude Chandler Warner has given our children one of the most popular mystery series of all time: The Boxcar Children.  The success of this series over the years can be attributed to a strong literary core: charming, realistic characters, age-appropriate storylines, appeal for both boys and girls, and uncomplicated, accessible writing. 

Perhaps the strongest element of Warner’s stories is that they are written in a simple prose that reaches readers of many ages and levels.  The writing is very basic, and contains mostly “sight” words, or familiar vocabulary, yet Warner smoothly spins detailed and engaging mysteries.  The Boxcar Children books are wonderful reading selections for many types of readers, from independent Pre-K and Kinder readers, to on-level first through fourth graders, and will also extend to struggling older readers (who want to read “real” chapter books without having to dip into books they feel are for younger children).  The Boxcar Children is a tale that you need to share with the children around you!  You’ll be delighted at how quickly they become drawn into the adventures, and you’ll smile as they eagerly ask for the next book in the series!  As a child, I was inspired by this series, and now, as a parent, I take every opportunity to make sure that my own children get to experience The Boxcar Children, as I’m sure they will do for their own children one day.

*Note from Melissa:  I get a lot of letters from parents and teachers, asking for recommendations for books to give to their young children.  The first book on my list is always The Boxcar Children.  I am absolutely baffled at how many parents and teachers have NOT had their children read this amazing series!  So my advice to all of you: put The Boxcar Children on your must-read list for your young readers!

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Albert Whitman & Co.

Content Analysis:

Albert Whitman & Company sent books #1-4 and books #126 and #127 for this review.   This was a wonderful selection of titles because I was able to read the books written by Gertrude Warner, and then the books that have been continued by writers for the series since her death.  The most pleasing discovery is that the books written under her name do not “age” or get more mature…they are just as clean and simple as her original stories.

There is absolutely no profanity or sexual content in this series.  

For violence, it is very, very seldom and very extremely mild.  I almost hesitate to even mention it because it is age-appropriate, never detailed at all, and simply includes instances like tracking down a thief, or using the word “crimes”.  Personally, I felt comfortable giving these books to my 4 year-old who was an advanced reader, and I was completely fine with her reading these stories.

Mature Subject Matter:

For mature themes, there is a very mild theme of the children’s family situation.  We know that they are orphaned (we meet them as they are finding a place to live).  We do not know what happened to their parents.  In the first of the series, the children are reunited with their grandfather, who is caring and loving, and takes the children in as his own.    The other very mild themes simply include the mysteries that they are trying to solve, which are written simply and plainly, and are absolutely age-appropraite for young readers:  Missing cameras, who used to live in a house, ancient artifacts, etc.  There are also many inspiring themes such as love, trust, family, being independent, and helping those around you.

As mentioned in the overall review, these books will appeal to many readers.  From ages 4+ to older readers who are struggling and need some great books that will help boost their confidence and improve their reading skills.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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Please note that reviews dated prior to February 1, 2012 came from and had a more informal content review process. Those reviews have been added to our database because they have a lot of great content information, but their format will look different and there may be wider variation in those reviews.