The Boxcar Children #1: Boxcar Children

by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Hardcover, 1942



Local notes

Fic (c.2)



Albert Whitman & Company (1942), 160 pages


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.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

160 p.; 5.5 inches


0807508519 / 9780807508510



Media reviews

Publisher's Weekly
An impeccable production of a compelling story...

User reviews

LibraryThing member lep119
This story follows 4 siblings: Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny who are orphans. The children are determined to make it on their own so they do not get separated, so they set out to find a safe place to live. they find an old, red boxcar that provides shelter from a storm. Against all odds, they make it into their home and become the Boxcar Children. I read this book when I was younger, and throughout enjoyed reading it again! It is a wonderful transition book that is an easy read for children who are moving up to chapter books. The print is large and easy to follow with its simple sentences. You really begin to get to know these characters and you definitely want to get the other books in the series to see what other adventures they get themselves into!… (more)
LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
The rest of the series is complete crap, but there is something classic and wonderful about children digging through trash to find cups for their milk. To this day I remember that they kept their glass milk jug (!) cold in the nearby stream. This book was clearly the prelude to my post-apocalyptic fantasies.
LibraryThing member stipe168
like watching full house, but with adventure! somewhat... i read them all when i was a kid!
LibraryThing member marthas
Read this as a kid and remembered liking it. Some kids' books hold up pretty well when you read them as an adult, even first- or second-grade level. This one, not so much. It was okay and a very fast read, though. I would have rated it two stars if I were rating it according to how much I enjoyed it, but for a kid at the appropriate age it's probably a three or four, so I settled on three stars.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cottonwood.School
Four orphaned children run away and live in a boxcar, until they are found by their grandfather.
LibraryThing member leila_library
One of the first chapter books series Leila and Mom read together.
LibraryThing member orlass
I was lucky enough to find this edition after reading a later book set in San Francisco (pretty awful) that turned out to be one in the franchise contributed to by different writers after Chandler's death. She wrote 19, and this first one is excellent. The silhouette illustrations are lovely, and in the back are a brief bio and a letter she wrote to a girl who wants to be a writer. Substitute teaching during WWII, she specifically wrote this book for her students who had difficulty reading, wanting to give them a good story in language they could follow.… (more)
LibraryThing member carka
I'm so excited to reread all these children's series with Maggie in about 4 years. I lived on the Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Bunnicula, Ruth Chew and, later, John Bellairs.
LibraryThing member Blakelyn
My favorite children's book EVER. Found it at a yard sale recently and plan to read again at age 27!
LibraryThing member agrudzien
Now that they are orphaned, the four Alden children are in search of a place to live -- somewhere close enough to a town so they can still buy food, but far enough away that no one will spot them and turn them over to the horrible grandfather they have never met. When the come upon an abandoned boxcar, all four children: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny decide that it is perfect. They set about making the boxcar into a home and in the process make a good friend who helps them out in more ways than they could expect.

Orphans and did I not read this when I was a kid? This would have been perfect for me. Although I didn't see a real mystery within the book, it was definitely a fun read. The words sometimes sound too beginning readerish, but I don't think it would get in the way of enjoying the book/story for a more advanced reader.
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LibraryThing member Noelleon
The boxcar children,Henry,Jessy,Vilot,and benny these are the children that family died and are runing from there grandfather ever sence because they thought he was a mean guy and the setting starts at a bakery and benny said that he wanted cake and jessy said no we need breed instead so they go inside but the bakers wife hates children exspcely boys and then theey ask for bread and so they get 2 peaces and on there way out they saw 4 bences so they ask if they can sleep here for tonight and they made a deal so they?ops you are going to have to read the book to know what happens.… (more)
LibraryThing member Jsweezey
best book ever... my inspiration for my story, "A wild life"
LibraryThing member smurfwreck
My 2 Cents: One of, if not my favorite book from childhood. It's been the model for which I've based a lot of "life" decissions.
LibraryThing member sablelexi
I've read some reviews that say this series may not hold for modern young people, but really, I read it in the mid-late 80s and I enjoyed it, and I think there is still plenty of entertainment value for today's kids. Maybe some kids will be deterred by the lack of technology, but if they enjoy a good adventure, I'm not sure they'll miss it. After all, the adventures that the children go on are often the kinds of adventures that many kids dream of (like spending the summer all by themselves on an island, living off the land) and the mysteries that they solve are often the type that only kids see (like a hidden room "no one" new existed).
One thing I really enjoyed, as I read from one book to the next is that you slowly so the characters growing up before your eyes. Each book took place months apart, so over the course of the series they age and grow. By the end you start to get hints of their future (like who one of the girls may end up marrying). This is a large reason I do not recommend reading the books 20 and up, as they take the characters back to the age that there were in book one. I didn't enjoy that aspect, and didn't think the stories were as good, either.
A few years ago, I was feeling nostalgic and decided that I wanted to read the books again. Obviously, it took me virtually no time to get through the series, but I actually enjoyed it as much as I did as a kid, and I actually found things in it this time that I didn't appreciate as a kid (history types of things and things that they could do in the 40s and 50s that wouldn't be allowed today). While some adults probably wouldn't enjoy this if there was no nostalgia for them, others mights find it a fun, quick read.
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LibraryThing member gjchauvin504
When I was in about the third grade my teacher read this book to me and I never forgot it. I couldn't wait for the book to get here when I finally thought about it. I am 22 years old and I hope this book lives on in the years to come for all children young and old. I love this book and I would defiantly share thiis book with my students because I feel that they will love this book and read the rest of the books.… (more)
LibraryThing member jphilbrick
this is the only boxcar children book i've ever read, and i never had interest in the others because the kids end up with their grandfather at the end. i think the whole boxcar idea fulfilled some kind of independence-fantasy i had as a child (see also: my side of the mountain).
LibraryThing member shojo_a
I actually only like the first book, because I lose interest after they moved out of the box car. LOL
LibraryThing member acochra
This is a great series of chapter books that I loved as a young reader. They are really engaging and this first one of "The Boxcar Children" was my favorite. This young group of children are left without parents and the run away from their mean aunt and uncle. They are forced to grow-up and make important decisions on their own. The adventures that they have will keep your students engaged with the text and not be able to put it down. It is an awesome beginner chapter book for those students who want to start reading chapter books.… (more)
LibraryThing member AmberTheHuman
I read this as a child and of course love love loved it. I would play Boxcar Children endlessly with my two other friends, both girls, who played the sisters, so I played the eldest brother (it was obvious to me his was the best role to have as he knew everything and was the breadwinner and the most calm) and we were minus the youngest brother (who was really more of a pain than anything else). But the whole mystery thing? I tried, but I never got into it. Once they left the boxcar, the fun was over. Re-reading this, I find the writing to be rather simple and repetitive, but it's a kids book, and kids books at that time weren't allowed to have words over ten letters long, or some such.… (more)
LibraryThing member dms02
Another fine chapter book to read aloud to young listeners. The old time feel and pace of this book was just right. There is a slight mystery that occurs that my 5 year old did not really pick up on - but certainly did not detract from the book. Some old wording that was not updated in our copy but a swift parent could easily modernize while reading. A feel good happy ending story - we will certainly read book 2.

Just went and read some other reviewers - wow some harsh critique out there. I agree with another poster who reminds us all that this a book from the past of course there are gender stereotypes and scenarios that seem unrealistic in modern times...but should we just throw out all the books that do not directly relate to modern times? I think literature is one of the greatest ways to help children relate to a time and place they will never be apart of.
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LibraryThing member katieloucks
lovev this whole series
LibraryThing member swampygirl
Pretty much a staple of my early elementary school years, I read it over and over again. Didn't get too far otherwise in the series - maybe book five? After they leave the boxcar it just got way too goody-goody for my evil childhood mind. Not that they were deviants or anything, but I always wished I had a boxcar to run away to; still do really.… (more)
LibraryThing member CallMeChristina
"This is my pink cup!" Yes it is, Benny. Very cute story.
LibraryThing member CherieDooryard
My kids really enjoyed this one, possibly even more than they enjoyed the two Laura Ingalls Wilder books we've tried. They have the same detail that kids find fascinating, but without all the boring bits of exhaustive detail. Add in gentle bits of suspense and nice sibling relationships, and this was a winner.
LibraryThing member ctpress
It’s fascinating with a kids-living-on-their-own story. Without any parents they are running away afraid they will end up with their grandfather - whom they all think is an evil man.

There’s not a bad streak in any of these four kids - or their dog for that matter - it’s all very cozy despite their destitute situation living in an abandoned boxcar. So, well, it’s a good moral story that found an audience and many other books in the series.… (more)

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