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Before they were the Boxcar Children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm. Although times are hard, the Aldens are happy--"the best family of all," Mama likes to say. One day, a blizzard hits the countryside, and a car is stranded on the road near their farm. The family in the car needs shelter, and when the Aldens take them Before they were the Boxcar Children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm. Although times are hard, the Aldens are happy--"the best family of all," Mama likes to say. One day, a blizzard hits the countryside, and a car is stranded on the road near their farm. The family in the car needs shelter, and when the Aldens take them in, the strangers soon become friends. But things never stay the same at Fair Meadow Farm, and the spring and summer bring events that will forever change the lives of the Alden Children. Newbery Award-winning author Patricia MacLaclan pays loving tribute to the classic novel by Gertrude Chandler Warner in this story of the Alden children's origins and the challenges they faced before their boxcar adventures.


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Before they were the Boxcar Children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm. Although times are hard, the Aldens are happy--"the best family of all," Mama likes to say. One day, a blizzard hits the countryside, and a car is stranded on the road near their farm. The family in the car needs shelter, and when the Aldens take them Before they were the Boxcar Children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm. Although times are hard, the Aldens are happy--"the best family of all," Mama likes to say. One day, a blizzard hits the countryside, and a car is stranded on the road near their farm. The family in the car needs shelter, and when the Aldens take them in, the strangers soon become friends. But things never stay the same at Fair Meadow Farm, and the spring and summer bring events that will forever change the lives of the Alden Children. Newbery Award-winning author Patricia MacLaclan pays loving tribute to the classic novel by Gertrude Chandler Warner in this story of the Alden children's origins and the challenges they faced before their boxcar adventures.

30 review for The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm

  1. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    I knew it was coming and I still cried...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Silas

    This book was very fun. I liked the story because it was about four children. The farm was fun to read about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elijah Libert

    This book is a three star book because it was not that good because Benny did not get to have his dog and everyone was going away. It was just a sad book. The end.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Hankins

    Henry. Jessie, Violet. Bennie. Their Mama once told them they were the best family of all. . . The Boxcar Children. While Gertrude Chandler Warner only wrote nineteen of the original Boxcar Children books, the other books--numbering over one hundred titles--always pay respects back to the creator, a first grade teacher/writer. Patricia MacLachlan (1986 Newbery Winner SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL) gently--tenderly--drafts the prequel to the stories that will set the four children out to begin their adventur Henry. Jessie, Violet. Bennie. Their Mama once told them they were the best family of all. . . The Boxcar Children. While Gertrude Chandler Warner only wrote nineteen of the original Boxcar Children books, the other books--numbering over one hundred titles--always pay respects back to the creator, a first grade teacher/writer. Patricia MacLachlan (1986 Newbery Winner SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL) gently--tenderly--drafts the prequel to the stories that will set the four children out to begin their adventures. We get to meet their mother and father and we get to spend some time on Fair Meadow Farm where friends are taken in, makeshift circuses entertain the family and neighbors, and familial love and admiration (with all of its inside experiences that solidify the bonds of family members)are all part of the experience. The prequel serves as a nice introduction to the series for a new generation of readers and older readers/fans will appreciate MacLachlan's attention to the tradition of the stories. Wonderfully suited for younger readers, The Boxcar Children books are a return to a simpler time, but even more than this, the prequel will afford in introduction into a series of books wherein younger readers can make a quick--and ultimately sustained and consistent--relationship with the endearing characters. No spoiler for fans of the series, but the sequel will have to set the children apart from family in order to go out alone and to eventually meet their grandfather. The scene is rendered quickly, but this might require some navigation with younger readers with a reader advisor in the room. As the children prepare to leave their farm, there are some promises made between the children that may be tender for younger audiences, but as the book is written specifically for them, I sense that older readers will have more emotive episodes over these scenes than the newer readers into the series. I got to read the NetGalley edition of this prequel. The artwork was not finished yet, but it looks like the artwork will lend nicely to the overall feel of the book. The hardback release promises and extended afterward from MacLachlan as well as "teaser" pages from the first book, which younger readers will want after finishing the prequel.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Megan (ReadingRover)

    As a kid I was obsessed with The Boxcar Children so as I was scanning through the library’s audio catalog I saw this and figured I’d give it a try. I didn’t realize when I picked it that it wasn’t the first book in the actual series but a sort of tribute/ prequel written by someone else. (In my defense I was in a bit of a book frenzy!) regardless it brought back that old timey feel and made me yearn for the books I had always loved even more. Thinking back I couldn’t remember what had happened t As a kid I was obsessed with The Boxcar Children so as I was scanning through the library’s audio catalog I saw this and figured I’d give it a try. I didn’t realize when I picked it that it wasn’t the first book in the actual series but a sort of tribute/ prequel written by someone else. (In my defense I was in a bit of a book frenzy!) regardless it brought back that old timey feel and made me yearn for the books I had always loved even more. Thinking back I couldn’t remember what had happened to the kids parents or how they died so it was interesting to read this book. Now I’m ready to dive into the real thick of it in the original series. As I was listening I did feel like the stories were a bit different from what I had originally remembered. Actually, not so much the stories but more the personalities and feelings I got from the kids. They felt different than the originals. Well the stories had a bit of a different feel at first too but I got used to them. They weren’t as exciting. Though heartbreaking the last quarter of the book was the best. Things really picked up because as sad as it was, adventure was on the way. It was like I knew it was a different author who wrote this without consciously knowing beforehand. Or maybe I’m just not a kid anymore. 3.5 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    3.5 stars This has the same tone and feel of the original series, but isn't quite as good as the original Boxcar Children book. Still, an enjoyable, quick read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    I'm going to go out on an honest limb here and give this book one star, since GR labels one star "did not like it." I wanted to like this book, I really did, in spite of the dreaded fact of yet another "prequel" written by someone many years after the original author's death. Growing up, I only knew of the first "Boxcar Children" book, but I read it again and again after our teacher first read it aloud to us in class at odd moments during the day. I really liked Patricia MacLachlan's "Sarah, Pla I'm going to go out on an honest limb here and give this book one star, since GR labels one star "did not like it." I wanted to like this book, I really did, in spite of the dreaded fact of yet another "prequel" written by someone many years after the original author's death. Growing up, I only knew of the first "Boxcar Children" book, but I read it again and again after our teacher first read it aloud to us in class at odd moments during the day. I really liked Patricia MacLachlan's "Sarah, Plain and Tall" and found "Baby" to be well-written about such a difficult subject as the loss of a child...but this is not up to Maclachlan's usual standard of writing. The characters that leap off the page in The Boxcar Children are flat, two-dimensional and insipid in Maclachlan's version. I was more strongly reminded of The Bobbsey Twins than the Boxcar kids. Benny in particular is more like a three-year-old than five, even for 1942, with his penchant for one-word comments such as "Cow!" "Cowgirl!" etc--and yet he manages to do what no one else has ever done, teach an old dog new tricks?? Character coherence? The events are less than believable, even for a second or third-grade novel, particularly such a recently-produced book. Perhaps this is because the writing is so sketchy. The afterword speaks of the Alden children's "full life" and yet we are given no classroom interaction, no other friends than the people who turn up on their doorstep on two occasions. The Alden kids seem never even to have gone to town with their parents--and don't seem curious about it, either! We are asked to accept that the children just walk away, that their adult neighbours allow this, and that they don't seem all that affected by their parents' deaths. I was doubly surprised at how superficial and unsatisfying this book was, given her sensitive treatment of the themes of death and loss in her other books. Written in 2006...did the author possibly do it for the money? It certainly doesn't seem like a labour of love.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Renata

    First, let me say that my 3-star rating is me as an adult reader. For its actual intended audience it's probably higher. Second, let me say that recently I have had multiple conversations with adults about how every Boxcar Children book after the 1st one was BS because they no longer lived in a boxcar. The first Boxcar Children book was awesome because it was about homeless children who lived in an abandoned boxcar among woodland creatures. Any Boxcar Children book where they live in a HOUSE is B First, let me say that my 3-star rating is me as an adult reader. For its actual intended audience it's probably higher. Second, let me say that recently I have had multiple conversations with adults about how every Boxcar Children book after the 1st one was BS because they no longer lived in a boxcar. The first Boxcar Children book was awesome because it was about homeless children who lived in an abandoned boxcar among woodland creatures. Any Boxcar Children book where they live in a HOUSE is BS, and that includes this one, Patricia MacLachlan!!! Ahem. Anyway, it was weird reading this because the kids are as wholesome and happy as ever, but you just KNOW that a shoe is going to drop soon. (No spoiler: the entire series is based on the premise that they are orphans, okay?) Kids who like the original Boxcar Children books will probably like this. Adults seeking some Boxcar Children nostalgia would be better off reading the one single non-BS Boxcar Children book, which is Boxcar Children #1.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mikayla

    This was a very bittersweet prequel to the Boxcar Children. I loved seeing how they interacted while they were still a whole family. Their sweet ideas and fun antics. Of coarse, the ending was sad, but it provided a good bases for the first book. I liked having more background on the characters. Though I felt like it was not a good lead up to their relationship with their grandfather. I felt like their parents made him out to be fairly nice.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book has the simplicity of the original series, but the edition has modern illustrations of clothing and such when it is set in the Depression era. I didn’t finish the book because of its incomplete sentences. But maybe the book would still be good for young learning readers.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Reuben

    This was a pretty great story! I like that it shows what the Alden’s life was like before the first book. And it’s got a character with my name, Reuben! That was really weird to hear that in there! 😄

  12. 4 out of 5

    Toryn

    I think MacLachlan did an appropriate job explaining the Alden children’s parents, but still it was too quick.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    Long before they become those well-loved orphans living secretly in a boxcar to escape their supposedly evil grandfather, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny live at Meadowview Farm with their parents. In the final year before their parents die, the four kids care for animals, open their home to strangers whose car breaks down during a bad snowstorm, and even put on a free circus for their neighbors to distract them from “hard times.” Above all, even when the inevitable sad ending arrives, they car Long before they become those well-loved orphans living secretly in a boxcar to escape their supposedly evil grandfather, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny live at Meadowview Farm with their parents. In the final year before their parents die, the four kids care for animals, open their home to strangers whose car breaks down during a bad snowstorm, and even put on a free circus for their neighbors to distract them from “hard times.” Above all, even when the inevitable sad ending arrives, they care for and love one another. This book is being published to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Boxcar Children. I had mixed feelings about reading this book, but my curiosity won out over my reservations. Having read many of the original titles as a kid, I found that I really wanted to know what life was like before that opening scene in The Boxcar Children where the four kids stand hungry before the bakery window. I was worried, though, that even the talents of Patricia MacLachlan could not preserve the charm and warmth of the original series. It turns out I was a little bit right about that, but I still wasn’t entirely disappointed. The first thing I noticed, for better or for worse, is the fact that the writing style in this prequel is clearly that of Patricia MacLachlan. I guess I didn’t really expect her to try imitating Gertrude Chandler Warner, since that would feel even less authentic, but I found the change in voice from the original books to this one to be quite jarring. This is why I think this book should be seen as a tribute or homage to the original author and her narrative world rather than a true part of the series. If this were the first book a child read in the Boxcar Children series, I think that would be too bad and would somehow diminish the overall reading experience. Once I settled into the story, I became further convinced that this is definitely a book to be read after becoming familiar with the Boxcar Children, not before. There are lots of hints throughout the text to the death of the Alden parents, which I suppose could be seen as foreshadowing, but really won’t have nearly as much meaning for anyone who doesn’t know already how things turn out. There are lots of details, too, that hint at the roles each of the children will play later on in the series, characterizations which on their own are easy to breeze by, but combined with knowledge from the series give the reader a bit of a knowing smile. On its own, without considering the series as a whole, the book was just okay for me. I felt a strong sense of detachment from the characters, as though I could never really get close enough to them to feel what they were feeling, or worry about what worried them. The tone of the book is very upbeat and positive. Even when “hard times” strike, the Alden family seems to greet them with a smile, always ready for the next challenge. I know some parents will be pleased to have such a wholesome story to share with their kids, but I would argue that it’s even more wholesome than the already tame original series, and that it borders on painfully sweet. I also think the latter half of the book zips by far too quickly, with barely a climax before the denouement and conclusion. I felt like the parents’ death happened mainly because it was supposed to for the sake of continuity, and not because it made any logical sense as an ending to this particular story. I almost think I would have liked it better had MacLachlan stopped short of telling that segment of the story, and just gave us a glimpse into the Alden kids’ lives before becoming orphans. Finally, it is worth noting that there is no mystery in this book. I found that to be the oddest thing of all, given that it is a mystery series. I was fully expecting there to be some sort of detective work happening on the family farm, but there was none, and that was a disappointment. Kids who read this series for its mysterious storylines might give up on this one early on once they realize how far it deviates from the formula they’re used to. Recommend The Boxcar Children Beginning to chapter book readers already familiar with the series, and buy copies for nostalgic folks who read the series as kids.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tarissa

    I initially heard of the Boxcar Children prequel many months before its publication. As any childhood fan should be, I was intrigued. The unknown awakened my curiosity: Where did those 4 Alden children come from before they arrived in front of the bakery that stormy night? What truly happened to their parents? Why were they so afraid to meet their grandfather? Questions that Gertrude Chandler Warner had left to the reader's imagination. Questions that Patricia MacLachlan has personally attempted I initially heard of the Boxcar Children prequel many months before its publication. As any childhood fan should be, I was intrigued. The unknown awakened my curiosity: Where did those 4 Alden children come from before they arrived in front of the bakery that stormy night? What truly happened to their parents? Why were they so afraid to meet their grandfather? Questions that Gertrude Chandler Warner had left to the reader's imagination. Questions that Patricia MacLachlan has personally attempted to answer. As books go, it's a good, solid story. I'm not sure if this particular story was meant for the Alden children though. My reason for the previous statement being this: one thing I enjoyed about the Boxcar Children was that the books were timeless in the way of, there are not usually historical facts that pinpoint into which era that the stories take place. The original books were written in the 1940's, and are loosely based on that time period, but this new prequel brings in too much historical information about the Great Depression, more-so than what is denoted in the original books. For that reason, I didn't find the prequel's mood to match up exactly with the series, but I realize that Mrs. MacLachlan's passion is historical fiction, so this factor is at least understandable because of the author's writing style. Overall, I'm satisfied with this prequel. It fabricated a glimpse of the Alden children's life before we met them in the 1st book of the series---something never seen before. Had it been I to be the person to write a book like this, I would have plotted it differently, certainly. But I appreciate the effort made on Patricia MacLachlan's part to fill a void of questions in children's literature. Please note, I only would recommend this book to readers who have already consumed several of the other Boxcar Children books, specifically the first 19 that Mrs. Warner herself penned. Enjoy!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Summary (Booklist) MacLachlan, the author of Newbery Medal–winning Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985), takes on the story of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny before they were the Boxcar Children. Life is simple at Fair Meadow farm: chores, school, and time for fun. When the Clark family (jobless and moving because of the Great Depression) become stuck in a snowstorm, the Aldens take them in and become fast friends. All the children put on a circus, dressing one of the cows up as an elephant. But someth Summary (Booklist) MacLachlan, the author of Newbery Medal–winning Sarah, Plain and Tall (1985), takes on the story of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny before they were the Boxcar Children. Life is simple at Fair Meadow farm: chores, school, and time for fun. When the Clark family (jobless and moving because of the Great Depression) become stuck in a snowstorm, the Aldens take them in and become fast friends. All the children put on a circus, dressing one of the cows up as an elephant. But something devastating is on the way; Mr. and Mrs. Alden head to town and don’t come back. The sheriff tells the kids there’s been a car accident and the children decide to leave the farm. This prequel sets the scene for a reissuing of the original Boxcar Children books. My Comments: I don’t believe MacLachlan does as good of a job with the Boxcar children as did the original author, Gertrude Chandler. The dialogue and characters seem forced and artificial. A good portion of the book is spent on the Clark family and then they move on – what was their purpose? When the Alden parents die in an offstage car accident, there seems to be little emotion. The Alden children are more focused on how to avoid being sent to their estranged grandfather than their parent’s death, and they don’t even stay for the funeral. They are walking away from the farm and its assets although they do talk about coming back someday. Also strange is that a couple who is ready to take care of them (but is unable to because of “the law”) helps them run away. Short sentences, a straightforward plot, and plenty of dialogue make it an obvious choice for readers just transitioning into chapter books I would recommend this for grades 2-4.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Mansfield

    Reason for Reading: I am reading and collecting the first 19 original books by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I usually don't read modern prequels or continuations such as this (I didn't go anywhere near the Anne of Green Gables prequel!) but MacLachlan is a widely respected, award winning author whom I've read before so after a little consideration I thought I would give this a go. MacLachlan is a good writer who especially does the historical very well. The year is never given, but going from the fi Reason for Reading: I am reading and collecting the first 19 original books by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I usually don't read modern prequels or continuations such as this (I didn't go anywhere near the Anne of Green Gables prequel!) but MacLachlan is a widely respected, award winning author whom I've read before so after a little consideration I thought I would give this a go. MacLachlan is a good writer who especially does the historical very well. The year is never given, but going from the first BC book, this must be set in the early 40s. These are "hard times" and the Aldens live a simple life and the book tells the daily life of a simple family. There is slight drama to the plot but mostly it is a series of events that lead up to what the reader knows will be coming, the death of their parents and the turning of the children into orphans. This is all dealt with very gently and "not a big deal". No one should come into this book not having read their share of Boxcar Children Mysteries; this story is not to make one sad as one already knows the grand future of these children. MacLachlan has managed to keep Warner's simple style of writing while maintaining a quality work something she is well known for in her original work. Overall, I didn't really find this story adding anything that needed to be told. It is a simple book, not the beginning of a new series and does not add to the Alden Family canon. I'm sure it will sell well initially, but has nothing to sustain its longevity. A slow, gentle story, without much happening, no mystery and simply a preface to the opening chapter of the original Boxcar Children written in 1942.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    “The Boxcar Children Beginning” by acclaimed children’s author Patricia MacLachlan creates a prequel to Gertrude Chandler Warner’s beloved children’s series. A perennial favorite, the Boxcar Children—Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny—lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm before a tragic accident left them to fend for themselves. They were “the best family of all,” working together and helping others through hard times with cheerfulness and kindness. When the Clark family becomes stranded d “The Boxcar Children Beginning” by acclaimed children’s author Patricia MacLachlan creates a prequel to Gertrude Chandler Warner’s beloved children’s series. A perennial favorite, the Boxcar Children—Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny—lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm before a tragic accident left them to fend for themselves. They were “the best family of all,” working together and helping others through hard times with cheerfulness and kindness. When the Clark family becomes stranded during a snowstorm, the Aldens take them in, and the fun begins. Whether it’s going to school, helping with chores around the farm, or putting on their own circus, the children enjoy life to the fullest. However, MacLachlan’s writing contains foreshadowing of what is to come, and the Alden children’s values and sense of family will be put to the test. This quaint prequel is illustrated with sketches and includes a black-and-white map on both inside covers. Following the story is the author’s “Afterword: Setting the Scene,” along with an excerpt from the original book “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner, resources about the series, and a list of the first four books in the original series. MacLachlan does a beautiful job of capturing the essence of the Boxcar Children and imagining what their lives were like before they earned their epithet. The ending is sad, as is to be expected, but there is an overarching theme of hope and resilience that inspires readers to persevere through even the most adverse circumstances.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    So, I read The Boxcar Children in the 3rd grade, and enjoyed the books though elementary school. Perhaps if I could have read it with a third grader's perspective I would have liked this book better. It's obviously written simply for a young audience, so I can't be too harsh a critic. I think the characters' relationships are too sweet and perfect to be realistic, but I assume that's how the original books are too, so maybe it fits. I didn't think the sudden death of the parents was written very So, I read The Boxcar Children in the 3rd grade, and enjoyed the books though elementary school. Perhaps if I could have read it with a third grader's perspective I would have liked this book better. It's obviously written simply for a young audience, so I can't be too harsh a critic. I think the characters' relationships are too sweet and perfect to be realistic, but I assume that's how the original books are too, so maybe it fits. I didn't think the sudden death of the parents was written very well. It was just too abrupt, and there was very little detail in the children's reactions. It seemed very detached. Maybe the goal was to protect a young reader from an emotionally traumatic subject, but I think a lot more emotion would have been a good idea, so the reader could feel more sympathy for the children and what they were losing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    not bad,but it didn't fully answer the questions I had of how the Boxcar Children ended up where they were at the beginning of the original Boxcar Children book. like, what's up with the non- interacting grandfather? It did a good job of not letting it get too upsetting for the young readers, who obviously have to deal with a death in the book, but at the same time, you'd think they'd be a little more traumatized by the event. but it makes sense that the author doesn't dwell on it, since it's a not bad,but it didn't fully answer the questions I had of how the Boxcar Children ended up where they were at the beginning of the original Boxcar Children book. like, what's up with the non- interacting grandfather? It did a good job of not letting it get too upsetting for the young readers, who obviously have to deal with a death in the book, but at the same time, you'd think they'd be a little more traumatized by the event. but it makes sense that the author doesn't dwell on it, since it's a kid's book. prior to the death of the parents, the story was just OK, not as captivating as the mysteries or the original Boxcar Children book, though.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bailey Marissa

    This prequel is adorable. We get to see the kids with their parents and it's the cutest thing ever.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is set the summer immediately before the first Boxcar Children book, and sets up the reason the children are on their own and running from their unknown grandfather. It is set during the Great Depression, and most of the story is just a happy summer on the family farm. It struggles because it was written for the same audience as the Boxcar Children books, namely early readers. As a result the language is simple, and as an adult reader it is almost painfully simple. But I can allow that This book is set the summer immediately before the first Boxcar Children book, and sets up the reason the children are on their own and running from their unknown grandfather. It is set during the Great Depression, and most of the story is just a happy summer on the family farm. It struggles because it was written for the same audience as the Boxcar Children books, namely early readers. As a result the language is simple, and as an adult reader it is almost painfully simple. But I can allow that it may be perfect for a 6 or 7 year old to gain confidence in chapter books. Unfortunately the plot was also painfully simple. The whole time, anyone who has read the other books knows generally what’s coming (parents death), yet none of the book builds up to it, other than some very awkward foreshadowing at the beginning of the book. The Event happened in the second to last chapter, and just happened. No preamble, no follow up. The relationship with the grandfather was softened, presumably because the reader already “knows” Grandfather, but as a result the reason given for running away is not compelling. All this is made worse by the fact that this is not the original origin story for the Alden children. The first origin story actually was written by Warner herself as the first of the books. The first book was originally published as the Box-Car Children, and began after their father died but before they ran away. Their father in that story was an alcoholic, and the neighbors were parsing the children out because no one could take on 4. The father’s character spoke to why the grandfather disliked the family, and the hardships of death, alcoholism and separating a family were not hidden. (Interestingly, in Beginning, no adult actually uses the word “dead” when referring to the parents, and no adult directly refers to the “children’s home.” Both are implied, which makes the plot weaker in my opinion). Warner rewrote the book later when it became popular, to make it more “child friendly,” as what was deemed appropriate for children had changed between when she wrote the original story and when she published the rewrite. All in all, I did not find this to be a believable or compelling origin story, and I was disappointed because I hoped for better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    I loved the Boxcar Children when I was a kid, and I also loved Sarah Plain and Tall, so when I found out Patricia MacLachlan wrote a prequel to the Boxcar Children obviously I had to check it out! It's very faithful to the vibe of the original series -- lots of cheerful making do in tough financial straits -- and just a heads-up in case you're thinking of handing this to a child, it does go right up to the start of the first Boxcar Children book, meaning the parents die and the kids are forced t I loved the Boxcar Children when I was a kid, and I also loved Sarah Plain and Tall, so when I found out Patricia MacLachlan wrote a prequel to the Boxcar Children obviously I had to check it out! It's very faithful to the vibe of the original series -- lots of cheerful making do in tough financial straits -- and just a heads-up in case you're thinking of handing this to a child, it does go right up to the start of the first Boxcar Children book, meaning the parents die and the kids are forced to run away into the night.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Devon

    I listened to this one on audio while I was working because it was so short. Even though it's a tiny book, I could barely keep myself interested in it. I'm curious to see if I would still enjoy the books by the original author, as an adult. I actually thought this was the first book in the series, and realized about halfway through that it's a prequel (which explains the lack of boxcars, I guess. oops.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Crissy

    I found this while searching for another visit back with the kids. I had never heard the story about how they became orphans, it seemed to just start with them on run from grandfather. It seemed like such a nice story but having read multiple later books you know something bad was about to happen. Then it did and it just didn't seem believable how they went from that to the original story line.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fred Kohn

    I wanted to read a Boxcar Children book by someone other than Gertrude Chandler Warner and this seemed like a good candidate. I don't know that it knocked my socks off, but it was ok. It wasn't as much of an adventure story as the other books I have read in this series. I wanted to read a Boxcar Children book by someone other than Gertrude Chandler Warner and this seemed like a good candidate. I don't know that it knocked my socks off, but it was ok. It wasn't as much of an adventure story as the other books I have read in this series.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    If your kids loved the Boxcar Children, but you don't want to start down the series wormhole, definitely read this Patrica MacLaughlan delight! It is simultaneously darling and devastating. My son said it was the "saddest thing he had ever heard." He is five. :). Very good introduction to mortality in an age appropriate way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Petrichor

    A surprisingly sweet prequel to the Boxcar Children books. While there is nary a mystery to be found, "Fair Meadow Farm" does a good job of establishing the children's characters without turning them into caricatures. This book reminded me how much I loved the Boxcar Children before I became a crusty old cynic, and I think fans of the series will enjoy this story for the nostalgia it evokes.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Steele

    it presents ideas of running away to be ok. This and other examples expressed in the book are not age appropriate for the reading audience it's geared towards. I will NOT be letting my kids read these.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kiyoko

    I would be interested to see how historically accurate this portrait of farm life in the 1920s. Read as an audio book during the Covid-19 quarantine. I do not remember reading this series as a child. We have access to epic books for the next three months, so we are avidly partaking.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Scheline

    Becoming an orphan... The sadness of this book is very real. I am part of a Middle School book club. This week we are reading The Boxcar Children. I chose to read the Beginnings for fun and am so glad I did. I will certainly recommend this books!

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