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The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  84,432 Ratings  ·  2,142 Reviews
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.
ebook, 160 pages
Published December 14th 2010 by Albert Whitman & Company (first published 1942)
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Jan 03, 2014 Lin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a child and oh, did I ever cherish it. I'm a detail-oriented person, and this book speaks to the super organized control freak in me. Warner weaves so many details into the lives of the Boxcar children that, as a young'un, I found myself mentally picturing their home in exquisite detail. Over a decade since I last read it, I still remember the milk kept cool by the waterfall, or the kids carrying the cherries back to the boxcar between them. These details are the strength of ...more
Mar 06, 2013 Sherry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was young, around the age of 7 I think, my mother was hospitalized for several months. I went to stay with my aunt and uncle. I missed my parents dreadfully. One warm afternoon while wandering around around on their property, I found a box of old books in a barn of sorts. I picked up The Boxcar Children and begain to read. My loneliness disappeared, and my life changed forever. The story pulled me in and I couldn't put it down. I felt as if I was a part of their adventures and the boxcar. ...more
I absolutely LOVE this book and the entire BOXCAR CHILDREN series!!! Seeing this on a list of the Top 100 Children's Books, I simply had to add it to my Goodreads shelves. It was the book that pulled me in - hook, line, and sinker - as a passionate reader and supporter of public libraries. And praise be, many of my grandchildren are now discovering the magical joy of reading and have contemporary copies of this wonderful series, too.

For more titles on the Top 100 Children's Books list: www.good
Jul 11, 2012 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never having read any of The Boxcar Children series as a kid, a friend recently gave me a copy of an ebook comprising the first 12 volumes to see what I missed out on. As a boy, I had been a fan of Enid Blyton's books, which were largely set in Britain, so I was curious to see how something similar from the US would read. I had also read that The Boxcar Children series is still very popular among kids despite having started in the 1940s.

As the book was first published 70 years ago, I was expecti
My love for reading was formed during my early years and I can clearly remember the books that brought it about. The picture books were all a blur of toddling first steps, a means to get to the main event…chapter books. I was never the child you had to force to check out the “big kids’ books”, I was the one that had to be reminded of the checkout limit. To be submerged in an ocean of bound together written words was and still is divine!!!

This book deserves a nod for creating two reading interest
Mar 23, 2008 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I had just given this a rating instead of feeling the need to re-read it, I would have clicked five stars and moved on with my life. I remember REALLY liking these books when I was a kid. And I like to think of myself as fundamentally the same person. Turns out, The Boxcar Children series is terrible! The only reason I gave it two stars was out of respect for the sliver of memory I have left of enjoying it. The writing is uninspired, the situations are improbable, and the stories aren't even ...more
Oct 14, 2010 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read this in 1993 when I was in 3rd grade and just loved it.
I never thought of all the gender stereotypes because I knew that it was an old book and you often see that in old books.
Come on, there is a "horse and cart" coming down the road, the boys are wearing short pants and stockings, and the girls have on kerchiefs over their heads.
Clearly this is not a modern book and we don't need to expect it to be modern.
Kids reading it should not be changed or affected by the gender stereotypes bec
Feb 01, 2008 Stacy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: babies
Recommended to Stacy by: Mom
I wanted to read this book because my mom said it was one of her favorites from her childhood. She said she identified with the children who had to take care of themselves. I don't think that's a compliment to my grandparents.

Anyway, reading this makes me realize how much children's literature has changed. The plot is like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - orphan siblings using their own resources to help themselves. But the tone is so sugary sweet it gives me a toothache. The c
Megan C
Feb 09, 2009 Megan C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
I happened to stumble across this and I was addicted to these when I was younger so I thought a re-read was in order. It was a little different than I remember but just as charming. I can see why I wanted to live in a boxcar when I was little. However, there is some weird gender things and other stuff that I never would have noticed as a child but seems glaringly obvious and weird as an adult. Overall reading it again was a heck of a lot of fun.
Dec 20, 2011 Esti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bonus review (not following the rules, but very heartfelt): I re-read this book out of sheer nostalgia, after typing up my review of the very unfortunate graphic novel adaptation. Though I probably read it a dozen times as a child, I hadn't looked at it since about fourth grade. I was impressed, when I read the graphic novel, how much I remembered from the original... Benny's pink cup, the swimming pool, the wonderful domesticity of everything, to the point of spending scarce money on salt and s ...more
Jul 28, 2015 Jenne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jf, logistics
hahaha wow this is such a weird story! But also just the kind of thing I like. I mean who wouldn't want to set up a little house in an old boxcar in the woods and eat delicious food and play in the creek.
In closing, I have two words: CHERRY. DUMPLINGS.
Kris Irvin
Jun 12, 2013 Kris Irvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I read The Boxcar Children as a child. I think I was 7 or 8 when I started reading them. It was the first series I ever collected and I loved these books.

I wanted to introduce them to my 5 year old. He's mildly autistic and has a very short attention span, but surprisingly, he sits still and listens to the story here. He loves Benny and Watch, and though he may not understand all of what is happening, I think he is getting the gist of it all. It's been a great experience to read these and re-li
Apr 11, 2009 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved these books as a child. I just re-read this one again, now as an adult. In reading many of the comments made here, I realize that most of you may not know this book was published in 1942, right after the Great Depression. This is a book about children who start off with nothing, but managed to survive and even thrive on their own resourcefulness. This was probably a very powerful book in 1942 and it is still relevant, perhaps even more so, today.

I love that these children are respectful
Jun 26, 2016 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A re-read of a very beloved book from my childhood. This story seemed so exciting when I read it as a child. Of course as an adult I can see why it probably wasn't a good idea for the children to live alone. It was a fun adventure, though!
What a sweet re-visit to childhood! A story of siblings who are unrealistically kind to each other, sharing, resourceful, and a little too picture perfect in all their friends and family, but a fun children's adventure nonetheless. Who didn't want to have their own little boxcar home as a child?
Oct 15, 2009 Delicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Genre: fiction, chapter book
Topic: runaways, life in a boxcar,
Theme: independence, trusting adults, becoming self-sufficient,
Illustrations: There are very few illustrations in this book. The few there are depict scenes from the story.
Use: read aloud, guided reading, independent reading
Reading level: Fluent
Literary Elements: vivid descriptions


Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, four orphaned brothers and sisters, suddenly appear in a small town. No one knows who these young wanderers are o
Mar 03, 2009 Greta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile
I never read these as a child and don't think I had much interest in them until searching for more books for my son to read. He's 7, in 2nd grade, but reads on a 5th grade reading level. I'm always trying to find books he can read that are on his level where the content isn't too old for him. This was one of the books I picked off the library shelf in hopes that it would meet that criteria. I thought it was a nice story and look forward to reading a few more of the boxcar books to see how they m ...more
Sep 29, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ahh, this just stirs up happy childhood memories. I loved this book and series so much. It is one of those series that our family lends out all the time,
Aug 21, 2007 Bookwormdragon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children
Shelves: reviewed, dont-own
This is one of the many classics from my childhood. I greatly enjoyed the whole series as a child, and would certainly recommend them to other readers in the targeted age-group, but I can't say that I have an overwhelming urge to re-read them as an adult. The Boxcar Children books fall into what I like to call the 'Library' category: worth checking out from the library, but not worth buying sight-unseen. While young children will probably enjoy them, I doubt that they will want to read most of t ...more
Michelle [Helen Geek]
One of the first books I ever had read to me. I remember my third grade teacher - Ms. Murray. I loved this book. I just bought it to read to my grand-girl. Third grade for me was in 1969. Wow! I never read others in the series and frankly didn't know there were others. I hope she likes this one so we can read them all!

Happy Reading!
Jubilation Lee
Admit it -- when you read this book, you obsessed for the next six weeks over the idea of running away from home, building a ladle out of scraps found in the junkyard, and picking cherries for a kindly elderly family. This series wasn't *nearly* as fun after they got adopted....
Stephanie Sun
A nice nostalgia read courtesy of Worldreader Mobile and Open Road Media. I was so glad to find that the ebook has the gorgeous illustrations by L. Kate Deal, which make living in a boxcar and eating stew made of castoff runt vegetables just seem even that much more idyllic:

The Alden siblings divide loaves of bread.

Dumpster diving! Benny finds a pink cup.

Jessie stirs stew made from tiny vegetables.

Although not without creepy Pleasantville moments ("'Tomorrow will be Sunday, and I can stay at h
Melissa Mckee
Warner, Gertrude Chandler. The Boxcar Children. Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company, 1977. Print.
Genre: Children’s Chapter Book
The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner is about four orphans running away from their orphanage due to mistreatment. They find a boxcar and make it into their home because they fear their legal guardian, their grandfather. While living in the boxcar, they encounter some issues that determine their future will not be as they’d hope living on their own. This bo
Nov 18, 2012 iram rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grade/Interest Level – Upper Elementary (3rd-5th)
Reading Level: Lexile 490L
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Main Characters: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny
Setting: Rural area in a fictitious town and in a boxcar
POV: Narrator
Rating: 5 stars

This story is about 4 orphaned siblings (Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny) and their search for the necessities of life, namely food and shelter. The children stick together by helping each other find food and comforting each other when resources run scarce. They preten
Kellyn Roth
Possibly the best first-chapter-book ever. :)
Do you like nearly plotless, nearly conflictless books? Do you like pedantry about the value of hard work and never feeling negative emotions? Do you like endings that are predictable as hell? Do you like reading about children who are virtuous to a fault? Do you like tales where everything comes easily to the main characters, and they are never truly tested? "Do you laugh everything you say?" she laughed. Then this saccharine 1940s tale of runaways playing house in a boxcar is the book for you. ...more
Had forgotten how much I loved this book until my son read it aloud to me last month. The simple ingenuity with which the children build a life for themselves in the boxcar is fascinating, and as a child, thrilling. You think, I could make myself a house, a swimming pool, plates and cups! I loved it!

But you have to love this cover, with the kids in totally '80's clothes, even though the silhouette-style illustrations show them in pre-WWI garb!
Aug 20, 2016 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s, classic
I remember reading the Boxcar Children way back in the 1960s when I was a child. I especially liked the very first book of the series.I was surprised that the first book was written in 1942. The book starts out with the four children on their own after their parents died. they are running from a grandfather they never met but think he is a bad man. they end up in a town where in the woods they find an old abandoned boxcar. They set up a home there and find ways to take care of themselves. the ch ...more
Kathryn McCary
I know I read this as a child--I remember it rather differently. Everything you read as a child seems ever-so-much-moreso, and this is no exception.

Commentary available on the web about Gertrude Chandler Warner repeatedly mentions that she wrote the book because her elementary school students lacked books with exciting incidents but a very simple reading level. She definitely succeeded in filing that gap. They also note that the book was criticized because "the children were having too good a ti
Oct 10, 2010 Kelsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: relistic-fiction
The boxcar children is about 4 kides named Henry. Jessie, violet, and Benny. There parents both died so the cildren run away so there grandfather dosen't find them. The think that there grandfather is old, and mean. the go to the bakery and as they look at the display window when the backers wife comes and lookes at them with a verry bad look she hates kids. As the walked in they bought a lofe of bread and Henery asked if they could sleep ther at night if they helped do the dishes in the morning ...more
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Gertrude Chandler Warner was born in Putnam, Connecticut, on April 16, 1890, to Edgar and Jane Warner. Her family included a sister, Frances, and a brother, John. From the age of five, she dreamed of becoming an author. She wrote stories for her Grandfather Carpenter, and each Christmas she gave him one of these stories as a gift. Today, Ms. Warner is best remembered as the author of THE BOXCAR CH ...more
More about Gertrude Chandler Warner...

Other Books in the Series

The Boxcar Children (1 - 10 of 143 books)
  • Surprise Island (The Boxcar Children, #2)
  • The Yellow House Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #3)
  • Mystery Ranch (The Boxcar Children, #4)
  • Mike's Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #5)
  • Blue Bay Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #6)
  • The Woodshed Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #7)
  • The Lighthouse Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #8)
  • Mountain Top Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #9)
  • Schoolhouse Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #10)
  • Caboose Mystery (The Boxcar Children, #11)

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“How they love the old boxcar!” 3 likes
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