Friday, May 4, 2012

The Boxcar Children Graphics Novels Boxed Set (Books 1 to 6)

762PThe BoxCar Children Graphics Novels
Written by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Published at Albert Whitman and Company

Comic books and graphic novels are no stranger in this house.   When I met my husband back in December 1996, I didn’t know that he was collecting comics.   It’s something that I discovered while we dated the following year.    Back then, he had about 7 or 8 boxes of comics.  The funny part is that I had French comics like Tintin and Astérix.   So together we had a variety of comics.   Since our dating days, the collection has grown and now even our kids have their own little collection.

But what I find interesting is to find classic books in the form of comics.    We have one retelling the story of Tom Sawyer, one covering the adventures of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, and a graphic novel retelling some of H.G. Wells books.   You can even find a marvelous Bible made out like a comics too! So I was pleased to discover that The Boxcar Children books could come in graphic novels as well.   

I had the privilege to receive the first six graphic novels of The Boxcar Children.

About the Graphic Novels

#1 The BoxCar Children


Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden are brothers and sisters—and they’re orphans! The only way they can stay together is to make it on their own. One night, during a storm, the children find an old red boxcar that keeps them warm and safe. They decide to make it their home.

#2 Surprise Island


The Boxcar Children have a home with their grandfather now—but their adventures are just beginning! Their first adventure is to spend the summer camping on their own private island. The island is full of surprises, including a kind stranger with a secret.

#3 The Yellow House Mystery


Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden discover that a mystery surrounds the run-down yellow house on Surprise Island. The children find a letter and other clues that could lead them on the trail of a man who vanished from the house.

#4 Mystery Ranch


Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden have just found out they have an Aunt Jane who hasn’t spoken to their grandfather in years. The children are spending the summer on Aunt Jane’s ranch out west. On the way there, the girls spy a “mystery man.” Will he reveal an amazing discovery about the ranch that will change everything?

#5 Mike’s Mystery


Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden are on another summer trip to visit Aunt Jane at Mystery Ranch. They’re thrilled to find their friend Mike Wood lives in the bustling new town near the ranch. But one night, Mike’s house burns down and he is blamed for starting the fire!

#6 Blue Bay Mystery


The Boxcar Children are in for an extra-special surprise! They are going on a trip on a huge cargo ship to a deserted South Seas island. While fishing and exploring the island, the children discover clues that it isn’t deserted after all!

Who is Gertrude Chandler Warner?

Gertrude1Gertrude Chandler Warner was born in Putnam, Connecticut, on April 16, 1890, to Edgar and Jane Warner. Her family included a sister, Frances, and a brother, John. From the age of five, she dreamed of becoming an author. She wrote stories for her Grandfather Carpenter, and each Christmas she gave him one of these stories as a gift. Today, Ms. Warner is best remembered as the author of The Boxcar Children Mysteries.

As a child, Gertrude enjoyed many of the things that girls enjoy today. She loved furnishing a dollhouse with handmade furniture and she liked to read. Her favorite book was Alice in Wonderland. Often on Sundays after church, Gertrude enjoyed trips to visit her grandparents' farm. Along the way, she and Frances would stop to pick the wildflowers they both loved. Gertrude's favorite flower was the violet.

Her family was a very musical one. They were able to have a family orchestra, and Gertrude enjoyed playing the cello. Her father had brought her one from New York—a cello, a bow, a case and an instruction book. All together, he paid $14.00. Later, as an adult, she began playing the pipe organ and sometimes substituted for the church organist.

Due to ill health, Ms. Warner never finished high school. She left in the middle of her second year and studied with a tutor. Then, in 1918, when teachers were called to serve in World War I, the school board asked her to teach first grade. She had forty children in the morning and forty more in the afternoon. Ms. Warner wrote, "I was asked or begged to take this job because I taught Sunday School. But believe me, day school is nothing like Sunday School, and I sure learned by doing—I taught in that same room for 32 years, retiring at 60 to have more time to write." Eventually, Ms. Warner attended Yale, where she took several teacher training courses.

Once when she was sick and had to stay home from teaching, she thought up the story about the Boxcar Children. It was inspired by her childhood dreams. As a child, she had spent hours watching the trains go by near her family's home. Sometimes she could look through the window of a caboose and see a small stove, a little table, cracked cups with no saucers, and a tin coffee pot boiling away on the stove. The sight had fascinated her and made her dream about how much fun it would be to live and keep house in a boxcar or caboose. She read the story to her classes and rewrote it many times so the words were easy to understand. Some of her pupils spoke other languages at home and were just learning English. The Boxcar Children gave them a fun story that was easy to read.

Ms. Warner once wrote for her fans, "Perhaps you know that the original Boxcar Children… raised a storm of protest from librarians who thought the children were having too good a time without any parental control! That is exactly why children like it! Most of my own childhood exploits, such as living in a freight car, received very little cooperation from my parents."

Though the story of The Boxcar Children went through some changes after it was first written, the version that we are familiar with today was originally published in 1942 by Scott Foresman. Today, Albert Whitman & Company publishes this first classic story as well as the next eighteen Alden children adventures that were written by Ms. Warner.

Gertrude Chandler Warner died in 1979 at the age of 89 after a full life as a teacher, author, and volunteer for the American Red Cross and other charitable organizations. After her death, Albert Whitman & Company continued to receive mail from children across the country asking for more adventures about Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden. In 1991, Albert Whitman added to The Boxcar Children Mysteries so that today's children can enjoy many more adventures about this independent and caring group of children.

Our Thoughts

Discovering the Boxcar Children books in a graphic novel form was a marvelous discovery.   My oldest was quick to read through them while my 2nd son is taking his time to read them.      Different kids at different level of reading but both enjoyed the stories found in these graphic novels.   

I personally never read any of the Boxcar Children books before but I have discover interesting character who doesn’t hesitate to explore and turn themselves as little detectives to resolve a mystery they encounter.    The first graphic novel will tell the story how they came to live in a boxcar and how they got reacquainted with their own grand-father.    The adventures following this one are  all based on the regular books of the famous series.

If you have a reluctant reader who finds it hard to read regular books, I would strongly suggest that you explore the possibilities of graphic novels.   When my husband was a young child, he struggled to learn to read.   When he graduated from high school, he was not a proficient reader.   How did he manage to graduate without having the ability of reading is not hard to understand – he passed through the system.    A couple of years ago, we discovered that one of our kids was struggling to learn to read.   We worked hard and now he can read by himself.  But to this day, he prefers reading comics and graphic novels.  So having The Boxcar Children in a graphic novel way is a blessing for our family because I know that these comics will be clean and doesn’t contain images that I would have problem with.

Finally, Albert Whitman and Company also have an activity guide based on The BoxCard Children’s series.   This could keep your kids busy resolving and creating their own mystery.

I am quite pleased with the graphic novels based on the series The Boxcar Children.   The graphics are well done (though not at the quality of major comics companies mind you) when you consider that it is geared for children.   These graphic novels are small in size and can easily be tucked in a backpack for later reading.    The would be a great addition to anyone’s personal library or personal comic collection.  

Books 1 to 6 area available in a boxed set or individually.   The graphic novels are available for the first seventeen books of the series.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for review purposes from Thomas Allen. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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