I read this book aloud to Jacob and Graham, one or two chapters a night at bedtime, and they loved it. The chapters were short and simple enough to keep even my two-year-old interested. It is simple and sweet--a very good first novel for independent readers or for reading aloud to young children. The characters are so sweet and the story is charming. There is nothing offensive in this book whatsoever. As an adult, I was a bit bothered by the fact that we never understood why the children's grandfather hadn't ever visited them before. I would like to know the complexities of his relationship with their parents and understand why the children were afraid of him. I was also skeptical of brothers and sisters who always got along with each other so well and of some other aspects of the book. But if the story was logical on adult level, it probably wouldn't work as a children's book. My boys didn't care about the illogical aspects at all--they just loved the romantic idea of kids living in an old boxcar and they would always beg, "one more chapter!" when we finished each night.