Boxcar Children (1924 - Present): Book Series that has stood the taste of time

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If there is a book series that has stood the taste of time is the Boxcar Children book series. Since 1924, the books are still selling on the bookshelves and the stories never get old. Boxcar Children has even been adapted into a movie that was released in 2014. The Movie is based on the original 1924 Box Children book with a few additional plot and character twists to appeal to the current Gen X and Gen Z.

If you were luck to have been a bookie back in the '90s, you must have come across or even read the Boxcar Children series books part of your school work.

About Boxcar Children Book Series.
Boxcar Children is a collection of Children's books originally produced and published by Gertrude Chandler Warner. She was an American first grade teacher at the time. The series currently contains over 155 titles and it keeps increasing every year.

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The book is a tale of four orphaned kids namely: Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny. It was originally published by Rand Mc Nally in 1924 (as the Box-Car Children) and released by Albert Whitamn and Company. A short version of the book was released in 1942.

In the book, the kids build a home for themselves in an abandoned box car in the forest. They finally meet an ld man, who became their grandfather. He was a rich and kind man, although initially the kids thought he was cruel.

The kids decide to live with the grandfather, who moves their beloved car to his garden to encourage the kids to use it as a playhouse. The film adaptation of the Boxcar Children original book was released in 2014 and the sequel to the novel "Surprise Island" was released in 2018 as a movie.

Based on an online survey in 2007, the National Education Association included the original book as one of its Teachers Top 100 Children's Book.

The original novel was included in a 2012 report released by the School Library Journal in the most recent Top 100 Chapter Books (Children's Novels).


List of Boxcar Children's Books collection (1924 - 2020)
Even after her death 1979, the Boxcar Childrens books have always been released. If you were a toddler back in the 80s, 90s and a good part of the 2000s, your mum or dad must have read one of the Boxcar Childrens books as a bedtime story.

Here is the list of Boxcar Children books since 1924:

1​
Box-Car Children
1924​
2​
Surprise Island
1949​
3​
The Yellow House Mystery
1953​
4​
Mystery Ranch
1958​
5​
Mike's Mystery
1960​
6​
Blue Bay Mystery
1961​
7​
The Woodshed Mystery
1962​
8​
The Lighthouse Mystery
1963​
9​
Mountain Top Mystery
1964​
10​
Schoolhouse Mystery
1965​
11​
Caboose Mystery
1966​
12​
Houseboat Mystery
1967​
13​
Snowbound Mystery
1968​
14​
Tree House Mystery
1969​
15​
Bicycle Mystery
1970​
16​
Mystery in the Sand
1971​
17​
Mystery Behind the Wall
1973​
18​
Bus Station Mystery
1974​
19​
Benny Uncovers a Mystery
1976​

The above 19 books were written by Gertrude Chandler Warner before she met her death in 1979. Other 150+ related books in the series that were done by other authors include:
20​
The Haunted Cabin Mystery
1991​
21​
The Deserted Library Mystery
1991​
22​
The Animal Shelter Mystery
1991​
23​
The Old Motel Mystery
1991​
24​
The Mystery of the Hidden Painting
1992​
25​
The Amusement Park Mystery
1992​
26​
The Mystery of the Mixed Up Zoo
1992​
27​
The Camp Out Mystery
1992​
28​
The Mystery Girl
1992​
29​
The Mystery Cruise
1992​
30​
The Disappearing Friend Mystery
1992​
31​
The Mystery of the Singing Ghost
1992​
32​
The Mystery in the Snow
1993​
33​
The Pizza Mystery
1993​
34​
The Mystery Horse
1993​
35​
The Mystery at the Dog Show
1993​
36​
The Castle Mystery
1993​
37​
The Mystery of the Lost Village
1993​
38​
The Mystery of the Purple Pool
1994​
39​
The Ghost Ship Mystery
1994​
40​
The Canoe Trip Mystery
1994​
41​
The Mystery of the Hidden Beach
1994​
42​
The Mystery of the Missing Cat
1994​
43​
The Mystery on Stage
1994​
44​
The Dinosaur Mystery
1995​
45​
The Mystery of the Stolen Music
1995​
46​
The Chocolate Sundae Mystery
1995​
47​
The Mystery of the Hot Air Balloon
1995​
48​
The Mystery Bookstore
1995​
49​
The Mystery of the Stolen Boxcar
1995​
50​
Mystery in the Cave
1996​
51​
The Mystery on the Train
1996​
52​
The Mystery of the Lost Mine
1996​
53​
The Guide Dog Mystery
1996​
54​
The Hurricane Mystery
1996​
55​
The Mystery of the Secret Message
1996​
56​
The Firehouse Mystery
1997​
57​
The Mystery in San Francisco
1997​
58​
The Mystery at the Alamo
1997​
59​
The Outer Space Mystery
1997​
60​
The Soccer Mystery
1997​
61​
The Growling Bear Mystery
1997​
62​
The Mystery of the Lake Monster
1998​
63​
The Mystery at Peacock Hall
1998​
64​
The Black Pearl Mystery
1998​
65​
The Cereal Box Mystery
1998​
66​
The Panther Mystery
1998​
67​
The Mystery of the Stolen Sword
1998​
68​
The Basketball Mystery
1999​
69​
The Movie Star Mystery
1999​
70​
The Mystery of the Pirate's Map
1999​
71​
The Ghost Town Mystery
1999​
72​
The Mystery in the Mall
1999​
73​
The Gymnastics Mystery
1999​
74​
The Poison Frog Mystery
2000​
75​
The Mystery of the Empty Safe
2000​
76​
The Great Bicycle Race Mystery
2000​
77​
The Mystery of the Wild Ponies
2000​
78​
The Mystery in the Computer Game
2000​
79​
The Mystery at the Crooked House
2000​
80​
The Hockey Mystery
2001​
81​
The Mystery of the Midnight Dog
2001​
82​
The Summer Camp Mystery
2001​
83​
The Copycat Mystery
2001​
84​
The Haunted Clock Tower Mystery
2001​
85​
The Disappearing Staircase Mystery
2001​
86​
The Mystery on Blizzard Mountain
2002​
87​
The Mystery of the Spider's Clue
2002​
88​
The Mystery of the Mummy's Curse
2002​
89​
The Mystery of the Star Ruby
2002​
90​
The Stuffed Bear Mystery
2002​
91​
The Mystery at Skeleton Point
2002​
92​
The Tattletale Mystery
2003​
93​
The Comic Book Mystery
2003​
94​
The Ice Cream Mystery
2003​
95​
The Midnight Mystery
2003​
96​
The Mystery in the Fortune Cookie
2003​
97​
The Radio Mystery
2003​
98​
The Mystery of the Runaway Ghost
2004​
99​
The Finders Keepers Mystery
2004​
100​
The Mystery of the Haunted Boxcar
2004​
101​
The Clue in the Corn Maze
2004​
102​
The Ghost of the Chattering Bones
2005​
103​
The Sword of the Silver Knight
2005​
104​
The Game Store Mystery
2005​
105​
The Mystery of the Orphan Train
2005​
106​
The Vanishing Passenger
2006​
107​
The Giant Yo Yo Mystery
2006​
108​
The Creature in Ogopogo Lake
2006​
109​
The Rock and Roll Mystery
2006​
110​
The Secret of the Mask
2007​
111​
The Seattle Puzzle
2007​
112​
The Ghost in the First Row
2007​
113​
The Box that Watch Found
2007​
114​
A Horse Named Dragon
2008​
115​
The Great Detective Race
2008​
116​
The Ghost at the Drive-In Movie
2008​
117​
The Mystery of the Traveling Tomatoes
2008​
118​
The Spy Game
2009​
119​
The Dog-Gone Mystery
2009​
120​
The Vampire Mystery
2009​
121​
Superstar Watch
2009​
122​
The Spy in the Bleachers
2010​
123​
The Amazing Mystery Show
2010​
124​
The Pumpkin Head Mystery
2010​
125​
The Cupcake Caper
2010​
126​
The Clue in the Recycling Bin
2011​
127​
Monkey Trouble
2011​
128​
The Zombie Project
2011​
129​
The Great Turkey Heist
2011​
130​
The Garden Thief
2012​
131​
The Boardwalk Mystery
2013​
132​
Mystery of the Fallen Treasure
2013​
133​
The Return of the Graveyard Ghost
2013​
134​
The Mystery of the Stolen Snowboard
2014​
135​
The Mystery of the Wild West Bandit
2014​
136​
The Mystery of the Soccer Snitch
2014​
137​
The Mystery of the Grinning Gargoyle
2014​
138​
The Mystery of the Missing Pop Idol
2015​
139​
The Mystery of the Stolen Dinosaur Bones
2015​
140​
The Mystery at the Calgary Stampede
2015​
141​
The Sleepy Hollow Mystery
2015​
142​
The Legend of the Irish Castle
2016​
143​
The Celebrity Cat Caper
2016​
144​
Hidden in the Haunted School
2016​
145​
The Election Day Dilemma
2016​
146​
The Doughnut Whodunit
2018​
147​
The Robot Ransom
2018​
148​
Legend of the Howling Werewolf
2018​
149​
Day of the Dead Mystery
2018​
150​
The Hundred-Year Mystery
2019​
151​
The Sea Turtle Mystery
2019​
152​
Secret on the Thirteenth Floor
2019​
153​
The Power Down Mystery
2019​
154​
Mystery at Camp Survival
2020​
155​
The Mystery of the Forgotten Family
2020​
156​
The Skeleton Key Mystery
2020​
157​
Science Fair Sabotage
2020​
158​
The Clue in the Papyrus Scroll
2017​
159​
The Detour of the Elephants
2017​
160​
The Shackleton Sabotage
2017​
161​
The Khipu and the Final Key
2017​
162​
The Mystery in Washington, DC
1994​
163​
The Mystery at Snowflake Inn
1994​
164​
The Mystery at the Ballpark
1994​
165​
The Pilgrim Village Mystery
1995​
166​
The Mystery at the Fair
1996​
167​
The Pet Shop Mystery
1996​
168​
The Niagara Falls Mystery
1997​
169​
The Mystery in the Old Attic
1997​
170​
The Windy City Mystery
1998​
171​
The Mystery of the Queen's Jewels
1998​
172​
The Mystery of the Black Raven
1999​
173​
The Mystery in New York
1999​
174​
The Home Run Mystery
2000​
175​
The Honeybee Mystery
2000​
176​
The Mystery of the Screech Owl
2001​
177​
The Mystery of the Tiger's Eye
2001​
178​
The Candy Factory Mystery
2002​
179​
The Mystery of Alligator Swamp
2002​
180​
The Great Shark Mystery
2003​
181​
The Black Widow Spider Mystery
2003​
182​
The Great Spy Showdown
2019​
183​
Trouble on the Wild West Express
2020​

Now let us take a look at the Boxcar Children movie which was based on the original book.

Boxcar Children Movie (2014)

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The Boxcar children movie is arguably one of the best animated films of the last decade. Shot in 2014 the movie attracted the attention of many kids back then. The storyline revolves around four orphaned children who live in an abandoned boxcar for the better part of their life. The children fear being sent to their grandfather who they have never met and keep the boxcar as their secret home. The captivating film was directed by Daniel Chuba and Mark A.Z Zippe. Hammerhead productions Inc. Produced the movie that runs approximately for one and half hours.

Background of the Boxcar Children
Do you remember the Boxcar children stories? Boxcar children was one of the most loved movies that was developed from novels, books and stories that had been written by Gertrude Chandler. The adventures of Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden have been enjoyed by kids for some time now and it was wise in 2014 to come up with the Boxcar movie. The movie was drawn from over 19 stories written on the Boxcar children. The movie is mostly based on the Boxcar Children Mysteries, the Boxcar Children Specials and the adventures of Benny and Watch.


Boxcar Children Storyline
The Boxcar Children movie revolves around four orphaned children: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny who have been orphaned for a good time. The children go to purchase bread at a bakery where they ask to stay for the night. The baker and his wife learn the plight of the children being orphans and plan to take in three who are old enough and take Benny, the little one to a children’s home. The baker’s plan is to utilize the three in his bakery. The children hear out their plans of the baker and his wife and escape.

The baker tries to chase them but lest the children go away. Later on, they find an abandoned boxcar where they make it their new home and start a life filled freedom. The children begin looking for jobs and other things to do. Henry lands a job in a nearby town, Silver city and works for Dr.Moore.

He is involved in menial jobs as well as gardening for the doctor’s mother. The doctor knows the challenges the children face in their daily lives unknown to the children who know of it when Violet becomes very ill and they reach out the doctor for assistance. Their grandfather who lives nearby has been looking for them for some time now. He has been advertising in the papers and offering a reward for news to anyone with news about them.
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Photo: Common Sense Media
The doctor is now convinced it’s time to on come clean about what he knows as well as reaching out to the grandfather. Henry Alden, their grandfather, a steel baron comes to see them at once where the children introduce the doctor as their friend. The children are surprised by the kindness the grandfather treats them with since they had been brought up knowing that their grandfather is a bad person as he did not approve their parents’ marriage. The grandfather does not want to interfere with the children’s’ happiness and transfers the boxcar to his backward.


Boxcar Children Characters

Main Protagonists

These protagonists named in the revised version of the sequel of the original novel. In the original version of 1924, the family name was Cordyce instead of Alden. They were:
  • Henry James Alden,
  • Violet Alden,
  • Jessica Alden (aka Jessie)
  • Benjamin Alden (aka. Benny)
  • James Henry Alden
  • Watch
Supporting Characters.
  • Mrs McGregor
  • Mike
  • John Joseph Alden and Alice (aka Joe)
  • Aunt Jane and Auncle Andy
  • John Carter
Henry James Alden
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Henry was the oldest child of the Alden; Henry is depicted as a 14-year-old in all the 13 editions of the original 1924 edition of the Boxcar Children Book. He is shown to sooth his younger siblings. He is hard-working, reasonable, humble and overly protective.

Henry is a natural athlete; he even demonstrates an interest to fix things. Henry goes to school at The Lighthouse Mystery college.

Henry has a big blue car and he loves color green. In the book there is evidence that his grandfather is preparing him to take over the family business. Henry and Jessie speak fluent French. In addition, Henry was also an avid swimmer and learned how to sail while at the school.

In the later book series, Henry is de-aged to 14 again. These were the books written after the death of Gertrude Warner. In a question-and-answer show, it was revealed that Henry had to be de-aged so that he could appeal to the younger demographic, which were the primary target for the books.


Violet Alden
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In most of the sequels, she is 10 years old. She is Boxcar Children’s younger sister. She is a very sensitive child and knows how to paint and sew. She is also good with animals and is depicted as a sumptuous character. She is always very timid and likes to play the violin.

Violet’s favorite color is either violet or purple; she is always seen wearing these colors. She is the timidest of all girls, helping Jessie to care for Benny sometimes.

She is a lover of animals, shows love to everybody, and she is a fantastic photographer. She has light brown hair and purple eyes. The Seventh book reveals that she is a high school freshman. She got a white kitten called Sugar Cookie in the 16th book.

Violet wishes to be a nurse when she grows up. She is highly sensitive, very worrying, and vulnerable to sickness and cold.


Jessica Alden (aka Jessie)

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Jessi is the old sister in the Boxcar Children book series. In the original 1924 book, Jessie is depicted as 12-year-old girl. She frequently acts mother to Benny, Violet, and sometimes even Henry.

She is often in charge of cooking. Jessie is described as a very clean and well-organized girl. She is sometimes called Jess or Jessie. She doesn’t fear anything, she loves blue and is very strong.

Jessie will always be seen carrying a notebook. Jess is featured with long dark brown hair. She reads maps well, as seen in many of the book series. She is seen to age throughout the series and is seen to be a high school senior in the 7th book. She was also de-aged in the later book releases. Her favorite color is blue, and she loves to cook and bake.

It is hinted that she has a crush for John Carter, who is a young employee of her grandfather. Jessie speaks fluent French and is a good swimmer, and trained as a lifeguard. In the book, it is indicated that she did not attend college after finishing her high school.


Benjamin Alden (aka. Benny)
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In the book, ben is 6 years old and the youngest child. In the 1924, orginal book series, Ben is 5 years-old. He celebrates his 7th birthday on Surprise Island and proceeds to grow in age throughout the original book series.

He is seen to grow old in the sequel until she attains the age to work in a department store as described in the last original book “Benny Uncovers a Mystery”. Benny was a favorite of young readers with his enthusiastic childish qualities and comments. He’s an extremely exciting character.


James Henry Alden

The name is often confused for the character Henry James Alden. The arrangement of the names really matters here. He was Alden’s rich and kind grandfather. He would give them freedom and was seen to give them advice all the time.

He is the one who watch over the kids after the death of their parents.


Watch

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Watch is Boxcar Children’s dog. He was a watchdog that defended theme in the boxcar. Originally, a rich lady owned Watch, but he escaped and was adopted by the Aldens. The lady was so charmed that she allowed the children to keep him.

Watch was a Wire Fox Terrier and the children noticed him when Henry went to work. Watch is an Airedale in the original 1924 book. Watch had a thorn on his paw, Jessie helped to remove. He became know as her do because of this. Watch sleeps in Jessies bedroom in all the later series.






Dr. Moore
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Photo Coutesy: Behind The Voice Actors
In the original book released in 1924, Dr. Moore is referred to as McAllister. He is the man who gave Henry a job and tested Violet when she was diseased.


Other Boxcar Children Cast.
In the Boxcar Children Movie, Dr.Moore, the doctor who was voiced by J.K Simmons, Mary Moore-the doctor’s wife who was voiced by Illeana Doughlas. Henry Alden, was voiced by Zachary Gordon. Jessie Alden, Benny Alden and Violet Alden were voiced by Joey King, Jadon Sand and Mackenzie Foy respectively. Martin Sheen voices the grandfather, James Henry Alden. The baker and his wife were voiced by D.B Sweeney and Audrey Wasilewski respectively.


Nostalgia review: Looking back at the Boxcar Movie
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Photo Courtesy: The Austin Chronicle
I remember when I was in grade four, our teacher gave us a dose of the Boxcar Children book and from that moment I fell in love with the book. Being one of my best books I think it took so long for it to be adopted by the film industry. The love that was displayed by children of pour generation could relate to the urgent need of the book to be played as a movie like it was done in 2014, thanks to the movie directors.

The four children brought laughter and happiness in our homes and I could watch the movie severally. The adaptation of the movie from the books is so real that I felt like it had been in 3D version where I was actively involved in the adventures of Henry, Violet, Benny and Jessie. The politeness and hard work shown by Henry and the other kids encouraged me in helping my mother in doing house chores.

The way the adults in the movie blended with the kids is also an amazing thing which made me like working with more mature persons. Sitting down for the one hour and twenty six minutes watching the movie is not a waste of time. The storyline was educative and enjoyable.

The way the children reasoned in having their independence and the fear they had towards the police to a point of traveling in a train system to avoid attention and being reported to the police matched well with the lives we lived back then. Generally I used to fear my father a lot because he could discipline me by canning. It’s amazing how Dan Chuba and Mark Zippe show young children how helping the others is important. Henry has been used in passing information of how kids should love each other and work hard when he gets a job and work hard for the future of him and his siblings. This is so far one of the best films of my childhood.


Final Thoughts

The Boxcar Movie is a gentle one that parents should let their children watch. The captivating story depicts how four orphaned children who wish to have their independence live in a boxcar. The movie tries to teach children the values of loyalty, resourcefulness, and love. Inspiration and hope can also be drawn from the story. I believe the movie is more deserves increased ratings and is a good on that should be adopted by the film industry as an educative movie to children.

Who is your favorite Boxcar Children Personality?
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Photo Coutesy: boxcarchildren.com
 

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Omega Geeze
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Jul 13, 2019
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I remember having these read to me by my mom when I'd visit my grandparents as a kid. Those memories are irreplacable.