The Boxcar Children Beginning by Patricia MacLachlan

The Boxcar Children Beginning. By Patricia MacLachlan. Albert Whitman & Company, 2012. 144 pages. $16.99

Newbery Medal Winner Patricia MacLachlan presents an intriguing back story for the invincible Boxcar Children; Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden. The children enjoy life with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm removed from the dire economic conditions of the Depression. Eventually, though, that changes and the Clark’s including children, Meg and William, and family dog, Joe, stay with the Alden’s after being stranded near the farm. The two families bond and there are many long faces and tears when the Clarks resume their journey after Mr. Clark repairs their car. The Clark’s were only the first of a series of out-of-work families who stay with the generous Alden’s at Fair Meadow. Then tragedy strikes and the scene is set for the long popular Boxcar Children series. MacLachlan’s story is believable up to a point. The children’s transition from happy family to kids-on-the-road is abrupt and seemingly devoid of emotion. Having said that, young readers will enjoy reading about the Alden’s life before the mysteries. Suitable for 2nd to 5th grade readers.

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