There’s always been something alluring about orphans. Not the “11 years old and stuck in children’s services hell” kind of orphans, but the ones that, like Huck Finn, strike out on their own, living off the land as free children without a care in the world. Yes, the reality of what that life would actually be is horrible, but romanticized in fiction—and especially in fiction meant for children and young adults—that kind of independence is tantalizing. Advertisement Enter The Boxcar Children, four literary siblings originally created in 1924 by Connecticut schoolteacher Gertrude Chandler Warner. Left without parents in a manner that the books frustratingly never reveal, Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden live in a manner—even after they’re adopted by their grandfather—that’s both entertaining for young readers but that also shows a remarkable amount of self-reliance and respect for family values. In the first book, for instance, they eschew school for a life picking cherries and finding old dishes in a garbage dump. As the author bio pasted in the back of some of the books notes, Warner “liked to dress the Aldens’ independence and resourcefulness and their solid New England devotion to using up and making do.” The Boxcar… Read full this story
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