Reading/Interest Level: Primary
Author: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Illustrator: L. Kate Deal
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner is a short novel about four children who run away after their parents die. Afraid that their "mean" grandfather will find them, they eventually settle down in an abandoned boxcar in the woods. While the oldest boy, Henry, goes to work at a doctor's house in town, the other three children go exploring and find "treasures" in a dump. They are all happy until Violet gets sick, and the doctor reveals to their grandfather where his grandchildren are. Finding him to actually be a kind man, the children move in to his big house and live happily ever after with their boxcar in the back yard.
This book is a great introduction to chapter books for young readers. Warner's writing is easy to understand; she does not use contractions, making the writing even more simplistic. It is reminiscent of the children's book See Spot Run. The story is basic and focuses on how the children live from day to day, rather than having an overarching plot line. The majority of the plot comes at the end of the novel when Violet gets sick and the children discover who their grandfather is. Overall, this story is a wonderful example of classic children's literature.