Synopses & Reviews
Before they were the Boxcar Children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden lived with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm. Although times are hard, they're 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 MacLachlan 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.
"For readers who wondered over the past seven decades what happened to the parents of Gertrude Chandler Warner's Boxcar Children, Newbery Medalist MacLachan supplies the answer in this partially satisfying prequel. Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny live with their loving parents on Fair Meadow Farm. Times are hard, but the Aldens make do: father Ben works as a carpenter, and mother Kate sells baked goods. The Alden children continue to epitomize resourcefulness, putting on a circus and creating a barn hideaway. They do chores without complaint. Perhaps it's in character, then, that the untimely death of their parents is taken completely in stride; the children barely grieve. When Henry hints to a neighbor that they will flee rather than risk being sent to an orphanage, he is reminded he will miss his parents' funeral. 'I know that you will say good things about them,' Henry says. And then they're off. Fans will enjoy this picture of life 'before,' but it feels like a missed opportunity to make the Alden children a little less perfect. Ages 7 10. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In the year before they become the orphans known as the Boxcar Children, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden live with their parents at Fair Meadow Farm, where, although times are hard, they take in a family who have been stranded in their car during a blizzard.
About the Author
Patricia MacLachlan is the celebrated author of many timeless books for young readers, including Sarah, Plain and Tall, winner of the Newbery Medal. She lives with her husband and two border terriers in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. Tim Jessell is the illustrator of numerous books for children, including The Secrets of Doon. He is the new illustrator for The Boxcar Children series. He lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma.