VIDEO: The Boxcar Children Series

Full of Questions looks at the long running series of novels about four kids named Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny who used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they solve mysteries and are a huge source of nostalgia.

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  • MichaelANovelli

    I used to read these. I think I stopped at the Purple Pool one…

  • Jay_Bay

    It was alright. I was a Babysitters Club kinda guy…….don’t judge me.

    • FullofQuestions1

      Haha, it’s okay. I used to read those books too.

      • Chris Palmer

        …as did I

  • Muthsarah

    “The kids almost never fight.”

    Probably the biggest reason I could never get into these books. The children were so sweet to each other ALL THE TIME. It was clear they were idealized portraits of children, basically Precious Moments: The Novelization.

    I didn’t realize until I looked it up just now, but the first book was written in 1924. No wonder it seemed so alien. Not that old books can’t still be great (I loved Twain, Stevenson, and Tolkien as a kid), but it does help to explain how strangely the characters were written compared with what I was expecting of them, lo those many years ago.

    EDIT: Now this has me thinking back on the Beverly Cleary (“Ramona” et al) books, which were from around the same time the Boxcar sequels were written. Those had believable and relatable kids too, so it can be done.

    • FullofQuestions1

      I love the Ramona books, oh man! I think those were probably the most accurate portrayals of childhood. The TV show is really good too if you can find it.

      Another good portrayal of children is The Hall Family Chronicles. Jane Langton is more known locally, which is kind of unfortunate. She has some good murder mysteries too. The Hall Family Chronicles are a fantasy series, where the central characters are these three kids. It’s absolutely beautiful imagery, the stories are interesting, and the characters are wonderful.

  • $36060516

    I didn’t read these as a kid. My childhood adventure/mystery series were “Tom Swift” and “Alfred Hitchcock’s The Three Investigators.” So, thank you for introducing me to a slice of history I missed!

    By any chance did you make this video in Vegas Pro 12? 😉

    • FullofQuestions1

      Glad you liked it!

      And yeah, I know about the watermark. I’ve been testing out various editing software- probably going to buy one in the fall once I’ve saved enough money. All I can say about this watermark: it’s not nearly as annoying as the one you get from the free version of AVS video editor.

      But hey, it’s not as crackly as WMM at least!

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yeah, I was a Three Investigators guy, too. I tried reading The Hardy Boys a couple times but they just weren’t as cool.

  • Linda Howard

    My third-grade teacher would read these to us regularly. The whole class would settle down to listen.

    • FullofQuestions1

      Aww. That’s awesome. My teachers never read these books to us, but they were on the shelves in the classroom, and it was nice to be able to power through them in a day or two.

  • I read the first one. I thought it was a nice little self contained story, I tried to read another, couldn’t make it through the first chapter.
    But i am not a fair example, mystery books did not appeal to me as a kid the way horror (Goosebumps, Spooksville, Ghosts of Fear Street), science fiction, (Animorphs), or comic books.

    Good to see you put out a video, you are one of the more distinct voices on the Agony Booth, cute and analytical but still witty… Kind of like Velma from “Scooby Doo”… I mean that as a compliment.

    • FullofQuestions1

      Aww, thanks.:)

      I was into horror and sci-fi too, but I was a raging Nancy Drew addict, so I ended up finding more and more mystery novels as a result of that. I’ll be honest, part of the reason I liked The Boxcar Children and The A-Z Mysteries was that they didn’t take up a ton of time, so I’d have one quick fix and then still have time to read something else.

      One of my favorite children’s horror authors is actually criminally obscure: Betty Ren Wright wrote books like The Dollhouse Murders, A Ghost in the House, The Ghost of Mercy Manor, and Ghosts Beneath Our Feet. I may review the TV movie based on The Dollhouse Murders at some point (yes, there’s a movie). I remember Animorphs, but I was never as into it as I wanted to be. Great stories, but I didn’t get as obsessed with them as other people did.

      • I read the first two Nancy Drew novels when I was in fifth grade. Strangely they had Hardy Boys but for whatever reason I thought the cover art on Drew looked more interesting. but that was just when I found the Xanth fantasy novels and never went back.

        And while I did not read Betty Ren Wright, I remember those books because the school’s media center (they couldn’t call it a library for some reason) had them on a wrack (I know, prestigious distinction that I can remember a series of covers standing out to me two decades ago)… I will have to add it to the near infinite list of missed opportunities when it comes to, “Things other people loved that I totally missed the boat on”. Then again I have literate friends so if I read everything they just recommended to me in the last year I would be reading till death.

      • MephLord

        Have you played any Nancy Drew video games, and if so what did you think of them?

        • FullofQuestions1

          My childhood friend played a lot of them, and that was what first got me into the books. I barely remember them though. We were seven or eight- she’d let me play a little then make me let her take over, because I wouldn’t do well haha.

  • TheScottCSmith

    I’m not sure how I missed out on these as a kid. What I did read was “The Happy Hollisters” by Jerry West, another series of books about a mystery-solving family.

    I sure hope kids today experience the same kind of wonder and excitement of discovering a great book. I would hope so, but in a world where lots of people have access to the Internet and hundreds of channels of television programming, perhaps it’s not as common. When I was a kid there was no Internet and you only had the main broadcasting networks on your television, so I spent many, many hours with books.

    • FullofQuestions1

      Well, my sister is eight years old. She loves the internet, and she loves movies and TV. But she’s also an avid reader, just like the rest of her class. She’s not really into The Boxcar Children right now (she was at some point), but she IS into Harry Potter, and I am so happy about that. 🙂

      I didn’t have cable when I was little, so I read books pretty much nonstop. I find it funny when people say that the internet stops people from having social lives, because I started talking to people ONCE I STARTED USING THE INTERNET. Before that, I read books and didn’t talk to anyone,

      I think most kids and people my age know how to balance it out- internet use takes up a lot of our time, but nothing could replace books.

      • TheScottCSmith

        That’s encouraging to hear! No matter how technologically advanced we get, I hope books continue to inspire and amaze people.

        I’m like you in that the Internet, social media, etc has helped me in my own social/communication skills as I’m naturally introverted and very shy.

        • danbreunig

          It’s like I’m looking in a mirror… Thanks for saying it, Scott–both about books and internet socializing.

  • James Elfers

    I read a lot of these to my sons when they were growing up. They are both in college now and voracious readers. This was an excellent review of the series but you missed one attribute. The Box Car children can drive despite the fact that theoretically none of them are of driving age. But that fits in with the nature of kids when you are 7,8. or 9 you want to drive a car so much! That wish fulfilment of the characters is quite endearing. Boys as well as girls can enjoy the series as they are not gender specific like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Yes it is a very Caucasian and suburban world. It is also a very comforting one.