Cover image for The Boxcar children beginning : the Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm
Title:
The Boxcar children beginning : the Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm
Author:
MacLachlan, Patricia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Albert Whitman, [2012]

©2012
Physical Description:
119 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Summary:
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 has been stranded in their car during a blizzard.
General Note:
Prequel to the Boxcar children mysteries.

Map on endpapers.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
420 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.1 2.0 153525.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 2.4 5 Quiz: 57517.
ISBN:
9780807566169
Format :
Book

Available:*

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J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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On Order

Summary

Summary

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 happyâ"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.


Author Notes

Patricia MacLachlan was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 3, 1938. She received a B.A. from the University of Connecticut in 1962 and taught English at a junior high school until 1979. She began writing picture books and novels at the age of thirty-five. Her works include The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt, Skylark, Caleb's Story, Grandfather's Dance, Three Names, All the Places to Love, Before You Came, Cat Talk, and Snowflakes Fall. She won the Golden Kite Award for Arthur, for the Very First Time and the 1986 Newbery Medal for Sarah, Plain and Tall.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

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 a family gets 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 those familiar with the series know that something devastating is on the way. And toward the end of the book, Mr. and Mrs. Alden head to town and don't come back. The sheriff tells the kids there's been a car accident. Oddly, there's little emotion, with the siblings focused on how to avoid being sent to their estranged grandfather. Even young readers may find it strange that a couple who is ready to take care of them (but is unable to because of the law ) helps them run away. Both in style and events, this recalls books written in a much earlier era. But series fans will like this glimpse into the Aldens' previous life. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The combination of MacLachlan's name and the long-running popularity of the series ensures interest in this prequel.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny have a place in the hearts and on the bookshelves of so many families, and this perfectly positioned prequel will delight fans of the Alden children who have always wondered what happened before the Boxcar Children became the Boxcar Children. During the Great Depression, the family is living at Fairweather Farm. When the Clarks lose their home and are on their way to live with relatives, they become stuck during a blizzard, and the Aldens take them in. Many weeks go by until the part arrives to fix their car. The Alden and Clark children become good friends and attend school together, and when the Clarks leave, the children deal with their sadness. When the sheriff comes to give the Alden children the news that will change their lives forever, the Boxcar Children's journey truly begins. The innocence of the children is well captured through their straightforward dialogue, and each child has a distinct personality that will appeal to old fans and new readers of the series. Gently written, and harkening to a simpler time, this story will be an enjoyable family read and will serve as an easy-to-understand chapter book for emerging readers. Doubtlessly, the series will see reinvigorated interest from this title by an author whose talent for historical fiction will not be lost on young readers.-Alison Donnelly, Collinsville Memorial Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.