Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: Boxcar Children Beginning by Patricia MacLachlan

Prequels seem to be all the rage now-a-days.  The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley, Star Wars, and now The Boxcar Children.

Patricia MacLachlan, famous for writing the 1986 Newbery Award Winner Sarah, Plain and Tall, is not the original author of the series.  That title goes to Gertrude Chandler Warner who is sadly not with us any longer.  She wrote the original 19 books for the series from The Boxcar Children to Benny Uncovers a Mystery.  The 1990s saw a resurgence of the series with new books written by other authors with the series being credited as being created by Gertrude Chandler Warner.

The story is set before the Alden children run away, the opening of The Boxcar Children.  They live with their parents on Fair Meadow Farm.  A happy bunch they are, loving to do chores and just be with each other.  Hard times are upon them as it is the beginning of the Great Depression.  That's what I surmise from the goings-on in the book.

Due to the start of the Depression, a family of four has to leave their home behind to live with relatives.  On the way their car breaks down near Fair Meadow Farm.  They stay with the Aldens until they can get the car fixed.  In those days it was no easy or quick task.  The two kids go to school with the four Alden children and become fast friends, especially Benny with their dog, Joe.

Maybe it's because I'm older and have not read the books in a long time but the children felt younger to me.  It's right before the beginning of the first book in the series, so they really aren't much younger.  I'm older, I know that, and the books are intended for a young audience (2nd-6th grade).  That could very well be it.

MacLachlan does her best to infuse everything from the original series that we know about our favorite characters into this story.  Sometimes it feels a bit forced like the ending, but overall it is a nice story.  If you were a fan as a child I believe you will enjoy this look back at how life was for the Aldens before they  became orphans.

I read this book via Adobe Digital on my laptop as a review for  All opinions are my own.  I was not compensated for this review in any way.

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