#730 The Canoe Trip Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Canoe Trip Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Canoe Trip Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children are going on a camping and canoeing trip with their Aunt Jane. Apparently, she still gets around just fine. Aunt Jane makes sure the children have supplies and they start off on their trip. They are told that there might be wild wolves in the area, but Grandfather assures them there aren’t wild wolves in this area anymore.

Along the way, they hear about a stolen coin collection and they start finding clues. Someone broke into a museum and stole some coins that are worth quite a bit. The Aldens want to figure it out. They meet a scientist and several other people along the way, not all of them are nice.

What I liked

I know more about coin collecting than I would like to know because of my ex. People can get really riled up about collecting coins. Yes, some coins are worth a whole lot of money, particularly the ones that ended up messed up and still ended up out in circulation. So would this much fuss be made about a stolen coin collection? Yes, probably.

What I didn’t like

This is another one of those Boxcar books where you’re just like, “Eh..” It’s not that exciting. It’s not that memorable. I actually had to read a summary of this one online to jog my memory about what I had read.

Do the Aldens ever go anywhere and not solve a mystery? Really? Don’t they get tired of it? Can’t they just go out for ice cream and come back with just ice cream, not a mystery?


I wonder if they solved the mystery of who left their toilet paper in the woods during this one as well.

Weigh In

If you encountered a mystery you had to solve everywhere you went, would you go anywhere?

Do you collect coins?

#929 The Private History of a Campaign that Failed by Mark Twain

The Private History of a Campaign that Failed by Mark TwainThe Private History of a Campaign that Failed by Mark Twain

Mark Twain was in the military for a short time, about two weeks or so and it did not go well. At the very least, according to him it didn’t go well. This story is his side of what happened during his two weeks in the military. As you can imagine, there were some interesting happenings.

What I liked

Mark Twain was a funny guy. He even made himself up a silly pseudonym to go with his writing.

Mark made his was experience seem funny, no doubt he exaggerated quite a bit. War isn’t funny, but Mark was able to make it a bit funny. There’s some not-so-great moments, of course, but overall, this was pretty entertaining.

What I didn’t like

I can’t really say that I didn’t like it.


I wonder if he wore that suit to war.

Weigh In

If you went through a terrible time, would you find a humorous way to tell it to others?

Were you ever a part of something that was supposed to be great, but ended up pretty sad?

#928 A Life that Matters by Mary and Robert Schindler

A Life that Matters by Mary and Robert SchindlerA Life that Matters by Mary and Robert Schindler

For fifteen years Terri Schiavo lived between hospitals, nursing homes, and being taken care of her family. Her husband, Michael, had complete legal right to make all medical decisions for Terri, but those decisions weren’t always the best.

The whole thing started when Michael called his in-laws one night saying that Terri had collapsed. No one knew what happened or why. The family soon learned that Terri was never going to be the same again. The doctors didn’t think she would ever recover, but there was some hope. Terri could do small things and was getting rehabilitation at some point, but there was no money. Michael went to court to try to get money for Terri’s rehabilitation saying that all the money would go towards Terri’s care, but that didn’t happen. The money seemed to disappear. Michael got a girlfriend.

Terri was moved from facility to facility. Sometimes her parents and family would be barred from seeing her. There were multiple times that her feeding tube was taken out. Ultimately, there were several trials where the family argued against Michael about whether or not Terri should continue receiving food and water. Meanwhile, Terry could respond to some things. The family sought the help of the Florida governor, Jeb Bush, and got the support of many celebrities, but ultimately, Terri’s feeding tube was removed and she did die. The family has worked since then to help people in similar situations.

What I liked

The name Terri Schiavo is a name I’ve heard before, but I didn’t know the full extent of what happened, so I found this whole book very interesting and enriching, even if it is quite sad.

There is definitely a huge ethical argument in Terri’s story that people do need to think about.

What I didn’t like

There are two sides to this story and this is only one side. As is, I lean towards Terri’s parents’ side. If there was any response from Terri, that she could respond and interact, then she shouldn’t have been taken off of her feeding tube, especially, if her parents wanted her alive.

I used to work in a nursing home. I took care of several people on feeding tubes. None of them were entirely unresponsive. I even took care of several people who never spoke, but were definitely still in there somewhere. They had to be fed and cared for in all ways, but they still had responses to things–facial expressions and so forth. Would I have ever said that any of them deserved to be starved to death just because they didn’t respond like everyone else? No. They were people, someone’s mother, grandmother, whatever.

On the other hand, if I had had a patient that didn’t move, ever, and did nothing, and just existed on a feeding tube and catheter, I would feel very sorry for that person. There’s obviously nothing there.

On the one hand, I would never want to be in a state anywhere near Terri’s state. I wouldn’t want to live. I kind of think that if you have some incurable condition and you don’t want to live, it’s your choice. That’s why people have DNRs. For example, let’s say you have a living will stating that if your brain is without oxygen for five minutes, or whatever, that you don’t want to be resuscitated because of all the brain damage you would have, that’s a legitimate thing. Some brain damage is ok, but who wants to live in a state where their brain has been so severely damaged that they’re not remotely who they were before? Or they can’t walk? Or talk? Or eat? Or whatever?

On the other hand, if what Terri’s parents’ say about her being responsive to some things is true, then her parents should have been able to have kept Terri around. Terri should have lived. If Michael didn’t want to be the guardian over Terri, then her parents should have been able to do it.

Part of this whole thing really sounds like Michael just wanted to be rid of his wife. He didn’t want the responsibility for her–that’s really what it sounds like. Fine, let her parents do it. Don’t be a jerk about it. He even had Terri buried without her parents even knowing, which is a terrible jerk move.

On the other, other hand–if Terri had really expressed a desire to die if something like this ever happened to her, then that should have been written down somewhere. If you feel so strongly about something like this–write it down. Get it notarized, or whatever. That way, if it does happen, your choice is already made and people know it.

This whole thing is very sad.


This whole thing would have been solved with a living will.

Weigh In

What would you do if you were in Terri’s place?

Who do you think was in the right? If anybody? Maybe they were all wrong.

#927 The Finders Keepers Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Finders Keepers Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Finders Keepers Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Alden children are helping a friend who has a large, old house full of stuff. They think there might be some sort of treasure in the house, but they’re not sure what it would be at first. Soon, talk surfaces about some hand-made quilts that would be worth a lot of money, one in particular, a wedding-ring quilt. The Aldens find a trunk of  quilts in the attic and word soon gets out.

There are reporters snooping around for the quilts in addition to museum curators. The house is broken into. Even with all the rummaging, the wedding-ring quilt is yet to be found and people still try to get at the quilts. There’s one ugly quilt that nobody thinks is valuable, but it’s got a secret to hide.

What I liked

Quilts can certainly be interesting. I have one that my grandmother made that I’ve kept around for some time. It’s simple compared the quilts in this story, but still took a lot of work and sewing. I actually re-made it a few years ago. I replaced the backing, batting, and yarn ties. It was quite the project. Quilting is a huge endeavor, that can be done in groups, called quilting bees. Women get together to quilt and gossip. Of course, I don’t know how often people have quilting bees these days.

Some quilts do sell for a while lot of money and it’s because there is a whole lot of work that can go into each of them. So if you think that quilts wouldn’t be worth that much money, you’d be wrong.

What I didn’t like

It kind of makes me sad that someone would sell these quilts. I get it in a way. You’re not going to be able to use them all and wouldn’t it be better if they were in a museum where other people could enjoy them?

When I still lived at home, my family acquired a bunch of quilts, in a similar manner, although, they weren’t as nice as the quilts in this story sound. I thought it was kind of sad that none of the family wanted these quilts that had been made by their mother and grandmother. Quilts just feel really personal to me


Too bad none of my blankets are worth lots of money.

Weigh In

Why don’t the Aldens charge money for mysteries? They’d be even richer than they already were if they did.

Would you sell a family quilt if it was worth a lot of money?

#926 Mystery Ranch by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Mystery Ranch by Gertrude Chandler WarnerMystery Ranch by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Grandfather is being crabby, which is weird, because he’s usually cheerful. He tells the children that he’s upset about his sister, Jane. They didn’t even know grandfather had a sister. The children are going to go help Aunt Jane out for a while. They find out that Aunt Jane has a ranch, but it’s too much for her to take care of now. She has a few people hired on still.

She’s a bit crabby too, at the beginning, but she comes to like having the kids around. It also seems like she gets better as time goes on, but mysteries start popping up. There’s a strange shack on the property that someone appears to be living in. The kids don’t tell Aunt Jane because they don’t want to worry her.

They also find some strange dust. Grandfather has some people investigate and it turns out that the strange dirt is uranium. It’s worth a lot of money and one of the chimneys are even made of uranium ore. Aunt Jane has a surprise for the children and they do find out who has been living in the shack.

What I liked

This is one of the original Boxcar books so the story line goes into much more detail and has more in it than the newer Boxcar books.  I like how they’re more complex and less formulaic than the later books. This book also has some origins of some of the things that are prevalent throughout the rest of the series.

What I didn’t like

Uranium is radioactive and the Aldens are pretty much just rolling around in it. This is another place where Grandfather gets all of his money. He has a freaking Uranium mine, selling it to the US government and Russia at the same time I suppose.

It’s crazy that Aunt Jane gives her ranch to children, children–let that sink in. These kids are already spoiled, but they have their Aunt giving them a piece of property worth lots of money. It’s just so unrealistic.


They should have called it Uranium Ranch.

Weigh In

Would you give someone your ranch?

What would you do if you discovered uranium on your property.